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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
95/04/26 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING INDEX
OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
I N D E X
Wednesday, April 26, 1995
Briefer: Nicholas Burns
--Polish Diplomat Denied Access .......................1-2
--Travel Plans of Wives of Detainees ..................1-2
NATO Expansion/Partnership for Peace ..................2-9
--Remarks by Romanian State Secretary for Defense
--U.S./Russia Discussions re:
Possible Membership of Poland, Czech., Hungary .....4-5
--Secretary Christopher/FM Kozyrev Mtg. ...............4-6
Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty ..................8-9
--Light Water Reactor (LWR) Construction, KEDO ........9-10
--Ambassador Gallucci Letter to Vice Foreign Minister .11
--IAEA Monitoring of Nuclear Reactor Site/
Maintenance of Freeze ..............................11,13
Possibility of Transfer of Fissile Material ...........11-13
New Political Parties .................................13
Efforts to Locate Fred Cuney; U.S. Embassy Staff to
U.S. Contacts with Chechen Leaders ....................15
American Journalist Denied Access; Press Freedoms .....17
Frozen Assets of Serbia ...............................15-16
Support for UNPROFOR ..................................16
Working Group on Development of Iran's Nuclear
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 26, 1995, 1:13 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Sorry I'm late. I was just watching
the first pitch from Fenway Park. It's opening day. It must be where
Barry Schweid is.
Q No, he's here. He's waiting for the second pitch.
MR. BURNS: Oh, he is here someplace. There he is. Good
afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I have no
announcements to make, so I'll be glad to go directly to your questions.
Q Any news from Baghdad concerning the Americans?
MR. BURNS: No news from Baghdad concerning the two Americans.
It's our view that unfortunately the Polish Government is being given
the runaround by the Iraqi Government.
The Polish diplomat, Mr. Krystosik, asked again yesterday and again
today for access to the Americans and has not been given any kind of
rational reason why he can't see them.
I can report that Mrs. Daliberti and Mrs. Barloon have made
preparations to travel to Amman, Jordan. I believe Mrs. Daliberti
leaves today; and Mrs. Barloon, who is in Kuwait City, leaves tomorrow.
They are going to meet up with our Polish representative in Amman on
Friday. He will escort them into Baghdad this weekend, and he will
remain with them through the length of their stay in Baghdad.
Our interest here is to assure that these two women have full
access to visit their husbands and to spend time with them and then, of
course, for the very quick release of these two individuals, or the two
Americans being detained in the prison, as soon as possible.
Q Didn't you say yesterday that you hadn't gotten assures from
the Iraqis that these women would actually be allowed to see their
husbands? Has there been any change in that?
MR. BURNS: Not that I know of, Carol. We have an agreement with
the Iraqis that the two women will be given the visas in Jordan when
they arrive there with their passports. We don't have any other
guarantees, but we would be exceedingly surprised if they were given
visas to travel to Baghdad and then not allowed to have access to their
So it's our understanding and expectation that these meetings will
Q You hinted yesterday that other options beyond the diplomatic
option are being considered. I don't suppose you could elaborate on
MR. BURNS: I don't care to. I think this is something that we
have said consistently since the beginning of their detainment that we,
as a country, retain the right to take any action and to consider all
options to make sure that these two individuals are released.
I did say yesterday that we are currently pursuing a diplomatic
track, and we will continue to pursue that for the time being.
Obviously, we would like to see the diplomatic track bear fruit.
In the case of Mr. Ken Beaty, in 1993, I believe he was held for
seven or eight months before the diplomatic track was successful. We're
hoping that the record this time will be shorter; that they'll be
released very quickly.
Q Nick, on another subject, the Romanian Deputy Secretary of
Defense held a news conference this morning. He's seeing Under
Secretary Davis this afternoon, I'm told. He said that, although no one
likes to admit it, Russia has a de facto veto over any NATO membership
involving an Eastern European country. Is that the U.S. view?
MR. BURNS: I haven't seen the remarks of the Romanian official,
but I can give you an unequivocal U.S. view of the process of NATO
expansion. That is that NATO is going to expand eastward. That
decision was made in January 1994 at the Brussels Summit in which
President Clinton participated.
We have said consistently since January 1994 that one of our most
important foreign policy objectives in Europe is to see NATO expand, and
that no country outside of NATO has the right to a veto over that
process or will veto that process.
I think we have a very clear and consistent position on this.
Q Without using the poisonous word "veto," would other
countries -- namely, Russia -- have influence over the decision whether
to accept new partners in Eastern Europe, and which partners?
MR. BURNS: The decision as to how NATO will expand, when it will
expand, and who will become new members is a decision entirely of NATO
alone. We're very clear about, and we've made that clear to everyone
We have invited the countries of the former Warsaw Pact to involve
themselves in this process of developing a future European security
structure by participating in the Partnership for Peace. The great
majority of those countries have elected to do so. That is really the
focus now of our efforts, to work with these countries, to train with
them militarily, and to have a discussion -- a long-term and very
important discussion of European security issues with them within the
context of the PFP.
As you know, we have said consistently that 1995 will be a year
when the how and why of NATO expansion will be the subject that NATO
discusses at the upcoming NAC Ministerial in the Netherlands at the end
of May and in the meetings through next autumn.
We have also said that we are not now prepared -- NATO is not now
prepared -- to make decisions on the who and the when; but we certainly
have an interest in continuing discussions with countries under the
rubric of the PFP. That's why we, in the context of our relationship
with the Russian Government, we have made PFP a major issue. We want
them to sign up to the PFP. We think it's in their interests.
We also would be interested following that, in developing a
discussion with the Russian Government -- between NATO and the Russian
Government -- on a NATO-Russia relationship in the future as another
foundation for a future European security system.
Q Does that NATO-Russian relationship imply that the United
States is no longer contemplating the idea that Russia might actually be
a member of NATO?
MR. BURNS: The United States has said consistently that all PFP
members have the right to seek NATO membership and the right to be
considered for NATO membership. We have not excluded any country from
being a possible member of NATO in the future and neither have we made
any decisions about NATO membership.
Russia, obviously, is a particular focus of NATO because Russia is
an exceedingly large and powerful country. If you're trying to design
and develop a security system for the 21st Century that will keep the
peace and keep Europe undivided, then, obviously, you're got to have a
conversation with Russia.
So the answer to your question is, no, we haven't excluded the
possibility -- we haven't ruled out the possibility of Russian
membership in NATO, but we are quite anxious to have them participate in
PFP and quite anxious to engage in a Russian-NATO dialogue.
Q Nick, a follow-up today from the New York Times reports that
Foreign Minister Kozyrev, during his meeting with the Secretary -- this
past meeting with the Secretary in Geneva -- bluntly withdrew Russia's
sort of "nod-and-a-wink" at allowing Poland, the Czech Republic, and
Hungary to join NATO. Can you comment on that?
MR. BURNS: As you know, the Secretary will be seeing Foreign
Minister Kozyrev in a couple of hours. There will be a press
availability after that meeting, so I think I'll leave it to the
Secretary and the Foreign Minister to talk about the details of our
bilateral discussions with the Russians on this particular issue.
Q But this is a historical question, Nick.
MR. BURNS: Recent history -- history from late March.
Q That was not among the Background briefing information for
reporters in Geneva the last time around. Is there anything to that?
MR. BURNS: I would just say that we've had a very good set of
discussions with the Russian leadership in mid-December when the Vice
President traveled to Russia; in January, when the Secretary met Foreign
Minister Kozyrev in Geneva; and, again, in mid-March, when Secretary
Christopher met the Foreign Minister in Geneva -- a good set of
discussions. Those will continue today.
In the meeting today, the Secretary intends to review with Foreign
Minister Kozyrev the full range of issues on the U.S.-Russian agenda
that will make up the substantive component of the summit discussions on
May 10-11 in Moscow. These, of course, include, first and foremost, all
the European security issues that we've been discussing, Chechnya, the
problems that we think have developed -- the very serious problems -- in
Russia's negotiations of a nuclear energy deal with Iran; security
issues concerning ABM, TMD, chemical weapons, biological weapons;
Bosnia; the disappearance of Mr. Fred Cuny, who is an American citizen.
Secretary Christopher wrote to Foreign Minister Kozyrev recently about
this. That will come up today, and a number of other issues.
So the focus of today's meetings is to look at the agenda, review
each of the issues, including the European security issue, and see if we
can't prepare a successful and productive summit in a couple of weeks in
Q But, Nick, you pointedly did not deny that report by Friedman
in the New York Times.
MR. BURNS: What report in the New York Times?
Q That refers to the question that Sid asked, which is to say
that Kozyrev withdrew -- effectively withdrew -- Russia's accession to
Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia -- the Czech Republic?
MR. BURNS: I'm not confirming that report. What's I'm saying --
Q You're not denying it either?
MR. BURNS: I'm not confirming -- no, I don't want to say I'm not
denying. I'm simply saying that since the Secretary is going to have a
very important meeting in a couple of hours with Foreign Minister
Kozyrev, and since they're going to be talking to all of you some hours
after that, I'd really rather leave that very important issue for the
two of them to discuss with you.
In making this choice not to get into this substantively with you
in this briefing I'm not confirming it.
Q Are they going to talk about Chechnya?
MR. BURNS: They'll certainly talk about Chechnya. Chechnya is one
of the major issues in our relationship with the Russian Government.
Q Is the United States satisfied with this hiatus that Yeltsin
has apparently decided to make in the bombing and the fighting there?
MR. BURNS: Our view has been, since mid-December, that the
objective should be a total cessation of the fighting and a permanent
end to the fighting. That remains our advice to both the Russian
Government and the Chechen rebels, that this conflict cannot end in a
military solution; it can't be won on the ground by military means. It
can only be resolved ultimately by political means, and that means
So the answer is, we're interested in a permanent cessation of
Q So the Secretary will tell Kozyrev that Yeltsin has not gone
MR. BURNS: I don't want to put words in the Secretary's mouth
before he has a chance to meet Foreign Minister Kozyrev. I think my
comments on this were fairly straightforward, and I think I'll leave
them where they were.
Q Nick, do you have a fixed time or an approximate time for
MR. BURNS: That will depend on the course of the meeting. They've
got a lot of ground to cover. I wouldn't be surprised to see this
meeting go several hours. So what I will do, I'll be in touch with you
mid-to-late afternoon and try to give you a ballpark figure as to what
time we'll be starting.
Q Nick, a story in the Washington Times this morning on the
Korean problem said --
Q Still on Russia, please. Nick, you say Russia won't have a
veto on NATO expansion, but the United States is trying strenuously to
get Russia to cooperate with NATO. Aren't you at least giving them a
strong voice in NATO expansion, if not an outright veto?
MR. BURNS: The overriding objective of our foreign policy on this
question in Europe is to try to contribute with the European countries
toward a future that is peaceful, stable and in which Europe is united,
not divided -- everything that Europe was not in the 20th Century.
And to achieve that ultimate objective, we're interested in
expanding NATO. We are also interested in making sure that no country
in Europe, particularly Russia, given its size and power, is isolated.
We want Russia to be engaged in the process of building a European
security system, and so therefore we have every reason, considering our
vital national interests at stake, to engage Russia, and that is a
decision that NATO has made.
These will be NATO-Russia discussions; not just U.S.-Russia
discussions, although we do discuss these issues bilaterally.
But having said all of that, we've been very clear, and I'll be
glad to reaffirm, that the decision as to how NATO expands, when it
expands and who are its new members is NATO's alone.
Q Nick, these issues have been discussed in great detail,
specifically over the last few months by the Secretary, by the Deputy
Secretary, by other senior officials with their Russian counterparts.
Why is it that the Russians either continue to object to the U.S. point
of view or just don't get it?
MR. BURNS: Again, I don't want to characterize the Russian point
of view. I think you'll have to ask the Russian Government as to what
their view is on this. These are exceedingly complicated issues and
important issues for the security of all the countries of Europe and for
the United States. They can't be dealt with on a weekend. They're
going to be dealt with over the course of probably many months and many
years. We have, I think, a fairly realistic view of how difficult and
challenging this process is, but I'm not going to characterize how the
Russian Government feels about this, because I think Foreign Minister
Kozyrev is in a better position than I am to do that.
Q Well, Nick, they're not very secretive about how they feel
about it. They say the Cold War is over, and why are you all so busy
creating blocs again? And, of course, the inference is why create a
bloc right on Russia's doorstep.
NATO was formed on the perception that Russia was about to overrun
Western Europe. Whether that's true or not, the Soviet Union is gone.
What is NATO defending against, and what's wrong with the Russian
argument that you're dividing Europe into blocs again?
MR. BURNS: We're not creating a bloc.
Q No? Isn't an alliance a bloc?
MR. BURNS: No, we're creating an environment in Europe for the
future that will enable Europe to remain peaceful and stable, because --
Q How many organizations -- you've got OSCE, you've got all
sorts of organizations. Why do you need a military alliance to make
Europe peaceful, against whom?
MR. BURNS: Barry, I mean, I think you would have no objection to
having as an objective of American foreign policy a Europe that is
peaceful and stable and united.
Q No, I'm trying to demystify the notion that nobody knows what
Russian's complaining about.
MR. BURNS: Let me try to demystify it for you.
Q What Russia's complaining about is peeling off their former
allies, putting them in a bloc, and moving that bloc up to Russia's
border. They consider that somewhat unfriendly. Now, what's wrong with
MR. BURNS: Let me try to demystify it for you. We think that
Russia should be engaged with NATO along with the other countries of
Central and Eastern Europe in the process of building new understandings
to promote peace and unity and security in Europe. It's that simple.
Q Nick, just to follow up a little more. Senior officials ever
since December and the sort of fiasco in Budapest and with the PFP
signing ceremony, U.S. officials have been predicting that Russia would
soon sign those documents that it reneged on signing then. What
happened to that?
MR. BURNS: That's the continuing focus of our discussions with the
Russians. It will be on the agenda this afternoon and, obviously, on
the agenda for the summit meeting that's coming up.
Q Can I ask about Korea, please?
Q What is the view or the Russian comment, repeated again
yesterday, about not complying with CFE?
MR. BURNS: Our view is that the CFE Treaty is a very important
treaty for the future. We understand that Russia has some problems with
that treaty. We've encouraged Russia to operate within the framework of
the treaty to work out those problems. We think there's sufficient
flexibility in the rules that govern that treaty for the Russians to be
satisfied that their own security concerns on their flanks can be met.
We do not support any attempt by any country to go beyond the confines
of that treaty and to seek unilateral solutions to their own security
Q Have you seen the report that the Russians are planning a
large troop movement in what you call the "flank zone," I guess?
MR. BURNS: I saw a report this morning that they may be, and I
think that the answer I just gave would cover our views on that report.
Q You hadn't been told or the conference hasn't been told of
the Russian intentions to move this brigade or division or whatever it
MR. BURNS: I don't have anything for you on that. I haven't
followed day by day the discussions in Vienna on this. But certainly
the Russian Government understands and has understood for a long time
our viewpoint -- not only ours, but of all other NATO countries.
This treaty took a long time to negotiate. More than 30 countries
have signed up to it. If you open up the treaty, what is to assure you
that you'll get the treaty put back together again. We think this
treaty has got to stand on its own merits, and we think there's
sufficient flexibility within it that all countries' security concerns
can be met.
Q Can we try on Korea? The Washington Times has a lengthy
story from Seoul. One of the points in the story is that North Korea
has told the United States, "We would like the United States to be the
prime contractor for these replacement reactors." Could you say whether
that's true, and, if you can't, could you say what's wrong with the idea
or what's right with the idea?
MR. BURNS: As in past days, I have very little to say. In fact,
almost nothing at all to say about the substance of our negotiations
with the North Koreans. I've told you that we have been in touch with
them; that Bob Gallucci sent a letter back to his counterpart, Vice
Foreign Minister Kang, yesterday. This is in response to the letter
that we received the day before that.
So we're continuing to await a response from the North Korean
Government on our proposal made last week, and that is to resume these
discussions in Geneva at a higher level, at Ambassador Gallucci and Vice
Foreign Minister Kang's level. We're ready to resume those discussions
as soon as the North Koreans are.
But what I can't do today, and what I'm unwilling to do, is go into
the substance of these exchanges in the letters or the substance of our
discussions last week.
Q Well, there should be a way to discuss this without going in
-- I mean, people have stood at that platform and insisted on South
Korean models and said other things about the U.S. view of how to
implement the October agreement. In fact, sub-contractors will be
permissible; there's never been a problem about that.
One question along those lines would be, would there be anything
wrong with the United States being the prime contractor instead of South
Korea? And, secondly, if they're South Korean models, does that come
with South Korean engineers, technicians and a whole flock of folks who,
according to this report, the North Koreans fear will further attempts
by South Korea to absorb the North Korean economy?
MR. BURNS: Our position on this is abundantly clear. Under the
Agreed Framework, the Republic of Korea -- South Korea -- is to provide
the reactors. That's our position. That remains our position.
Q It's not in the Agreed Framework -- it's not in the Agreement
by the way, it's a construction of the Framework. It's not literally in
MR. BURNS: In any case, our position is very clear and has been
clear throughout these negotiations --
Q That's the way you read the Framework.
MR. BURNS: -- that the Republic of Korea should provide the
Q Right, that's the construction.
MR. BURNS: And that's our view.
Q But there can be sub-contractors.
MR. BURNS: KEDO was set up in order to implement this part of the
Agreement, and KEDO will make the decisions as to sub-contracting
responsibilities. We have said many times that it is theoretically
possible for any number of countries to participate in the sub-contract.
We've also said in that context that South Korea would have the major
share of the work because they will be providing the reactors and
Q Has the name Jimmy Carter come up in the last three or four
days as a potential mediator? (Laughter)
MR. BURNS: It has not come up in any of my discussions in the
Department of State.
Q Nick, is it true that Ambassador Gallucci sent a letter last
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q How many pages was it? Can you sort of characterize? Was it
responding to the North Korean letter, or was it merely reiterating the
MR. BURNS: I believe it was a letter on State Department
letterhead that was transmitted through the North Korean mission in New
York. Beyond that, I have nothing to say about the contents of the
letter, either its length or its content.
Q Has the U.S. position changed in any way?
MR. BURNS: The U.S. position remains clear and unchanged on this
issue. We hope that the Agreed Framework can be fully implemented as
soon as possible.
Q Can I ask you just -- I know that an IAEA team is on-site.
MR. BURNS: That's right.
Q Do you happen to know the last time they had a good look and
assured themselves and you folks that the reactor hasn't been reloaded?
MR. BURNS: There's continuous monitoring. There are two IAEA
officials on-site at the reactor. They are continuously monitoring the
Agreed Framework. We remain convinced that the freeze is in place. We
also remain convinced that if there's any attempt to change the status
of the freeze, to restart any of the processes, we will know about it
Q Nick, a very sticky subject. The Secretary of Defense on
Sunday on "Meet the Press" said, and I quote: "We have a profound
concern not only in terms of the security situation in Korea but on the
danger that some of the materiel -- some of the bombs might find -- get
into the hands of terrorists," the very question we're talking about
today. He was talking about the issue of Kansas City (sic) and the
Kansas City bombing.
And then yesterday he responded to this subject and said that -- on
the possibility, I quote, "that they might sell or transfer some of that
technology to other nations. We know that the North Koreans have a very
difficult economic situation, and we find substantial evidence of their
selling and transfer of other technology, including missile
technologies, to other nations."
And my questions -- two questions to you are: One, is it possible
that we might want to open these discussions up again to expand the
Framework or go into another discussion about fissionable materials that
the North Koreans may have separated prior to entering into the
Framework Agreement and bombs -- weapons that they might have assembled
or might potentially have assembled that they could sell?
And the second question, Nick, is the Department of State as
concerned as the Department of Defense on this particular matter, not
only of a nuclear threat in the Korean peninsula from the North but
perhaps a threat to this country through terrorists -- a nuclear threat?
MR. BURNS: You've asked several questions in there. Let me just
try to deal with the general topic. I've not seen the remarks that
you're referring to, so I can't comment on those remarks, and I can't
add to them.
I can assure you that the Department of State and the Department of
Defense have a common position on the issue of North Korea's nuclear
future, and that is that the nuclear program in North Korea ought to be
totally dismantled; and that's the purpose of the Agreed Framework.
We are also of the view -- and we've just spoken to this -- that
the freeze ought to be maintained, and we're confident that it is right
now being maintained. Beyond that, this Administration has stated time
and again that one of our major foreign policy priorities is the fight
against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and of fissile
material; and there's no difference between our two Departments on that
Q Yes, but, Nick, what about addressing in negotiations
whatever materials that North Korea might have that are not currently
under the freeze, whatever fissionable materials they might indeed have
gained. Is there not the desirability to go back and to talk about
those things with them?
MR. BURNS: Given the long discussions we've had with the North
Koreans over the past year on the issue of its nuclear future, there can
be no misunderstanding in Pyongyang that our interest in seeing that
program taken down completely and our interest in preventing the spread
of fissile material from any country to any other is a quite serious
interest. So obviously we'll use all the means at our disposal to
monitor that situation and to make sure that there are no problems.
Q Nick, based on your long experience at the White House and
elsewhere on what goes in Moscow, is there a review on the formation of
more political parties now -- two more centrist parties. Of course,
you've got the Gaidar, let's-get-our-foot-off-Chechnya party. I
wouldn't ask you because if they're greasing the skids for Yeltsin's
departure, you wouldn't want to talk about that today. But does the
State Department have a view of this proliferation of apparently
democratic parties in Russia?
MR. BURNS: I just said we have concern about proliferation
worldwide, but in this case we believe in proliferation. We believe
proliferation of political parties in Russia and any country in the
world is a good thing. We don't favor any particular political party,
but any time a democratic process can be developed, it's a very good
Q You don't remember France before DeGaulle, do you?
MR. BURNS: France before DeGaulle. Let's see. Was I even living
Q Proliferation of parties.
Q Anything on Fred Cuny?
MR. BURNS: No good news on the case of Fred Cuny. Our two
American diplomats were in Chechnya yesterday working with the Russian
Government -- various officials with the Russian Government to look for
him. They have now gone back to Moscow to report to Ambassador
Pickering and to continue their work with the Russian Government and to
assess what further steps we should be taking to try to find him. I
said yesterday that Secretary Christopher had written Foreign Minister
Kozyrev. He's going to raise this issue this afternoon in the meeting.
Secretary Perry has written Defense Minister Grachev, which is a
very important contact because the Russian military is the primary
expression of Russian policy in Chechnya these days. They've got lots
of people on the ground. We're also working through the NGO community
because those people have contacts in the Chechen community that we
probably don't have.
I have no good news to report, but we are continuing our efforts to
Q Are you getting good cooperation?
MR. BURNS: We feel that we're getting a lot of cooperation from
the Russian Government. As I say, we've been in contact with three or
four ministries. I saw a press report today -- I've not seen this in
official circles -- of the Russians saying that they don't have any
information on his whereabouts. We're continuing to press the Russian
Government to continue to look into this, to press those people on the
ground, both the military officials and the Ministry of Interior
officials, to make this one of their top priorities.
Q Nick, why were they only in the region two days? I
understand that they were in Ingushetia day before yesterday and
Chechnya yesterday. Two days seems a pitifully small amount of time for
a search for a person in a war zone.
MR. BURNS: I don't think there's ever any expectation, Steve, that
they could go to every part of Chechnya to look in every village and
every town. One of the problems in looking for him is that military
activity and fighting continues. It continues in Bamut. It continues
both west and south of Grozny and in the mountains, and there are parts
of Chechnya which are simply unsafe for our diplomats.
So there's a lot of activity that preceded their visit to the
region, both to Ingushetia (and to Chechnya), where they were given
tremendous cooperation, as I understand it, from the Ingush authorities.
There will be, as of today, a lot of follow-up, and I'm not precluding
the possibility of further trips to the area.
Two people in a wartime situation are probably not the ultimate
answer. We went there to express our concern at the ground level. We
have got to receive the cooperation of the Russian authorities on the
ground and of the Chechen fighters and the Chechen authorities to find
him, and we'll continue that.
Q You said there was general good news but you didn't really
say what, if anything, they found out?
MR. BURNS: I don't have any detailed news from Moscow today on
whether or not they think there are specific leads that they can now
pursue. I simply don't have information from them.
But in receiving a report from the people in this building
responsible for that issue, they did not indicate to me in our
discussions that there was any good news that I could report to you.
Q Will the Secretary discuss this with Kozyrev?
MR. BURNS: Oh, absolutely. The Secretary is going to raise it
with Foreign Minister Kozyrev this afternoon.
Q Nick, what contacts have there been with the Chechen
leadership, if any?
MR. BURNS: What contacts have we had?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that we have had, as a government from
Washington any independent contact on the ground. There have been some
Chechen officials who visited Washington from time to time, and there
have been meetings with them.
What we are trying to do is use our contacts in Chechnya,
particularly in the NGO community, to see if we can get from the Chechen
leadership any view as to what happened to him.
Q Is there anything that bars direct contact between American
officials and the Chechen leadership?
MR. BURNS: I think the only thing that bars it is the fighting
that separates our people for the most part from the Chechen fighters.
But we have no institutional problem with meetings with Chechens. There
are Chechen expatriates here in the United States. There are people who
come and go, and we have had contacts with them.
Q On Yugoslavia. I wonder if you don't have an answer, can you
take the question. Is there a difference of view between the United
States on the one hand, and Britain and France on the other, on
enforcement of sanctions, and specifically the asset freeze on Serbia?
And have those two European countries allowed significant drawdowns of
Serbian frozen assets?
MR. BURNS: We have been in touch with both the UK and France about
this issue recently, this issue of the frozen assets of Serbia in the
Our current practice, the United States practice is to not permit
any kind of drawdown of the assets that have been frozen in the United
States. I understand that the current practice in the United Kingdom
and France is to permit some drawdowns for humanitarian purposes. So
what we are doing is discussing this issue with both the UK and the
Q How much money is involved?
MR. BURNS: I don't have any figures as to how much money is
involved. In the United States, you mean?
MR. BURNS: I can look into that for you. Given the nature of the
situation, I'm not sure I can give you specific amounts in Europe. I
may be able to get you a figure in the United States.
Q On Bosnia again. Alexander Zotov, the chief negotiator on
Bosnia for the Russians, said that he did not believe it would be safe
for the U.N. to continue to be in Bosnia on the ground with the
increases in fighting that are reported throughout the country. What is
the State Department's reaction to that?
MR. BURNS: I have a general reaction. I don't want to speak to
the specific quote because I haven't seen it. The United States has
long believed that UNPROFOR should be more assertive in carrying out its
responsibilities. We've made that view known just in the last couple of
days on a couple of issues pertaining to access in Sarajevo, and you're
well aware of that.
At the same time, we believe that UNPROFOR is an important
institution for assuring the continuation of humanitarian supplies to
more than a million and a half people affected. It's obviously a very
difficult situation. We have continuous talks with UNPROFOR in the U.N.
about how they carry out their responsibilities. But we think there
should be continued Contact Group support for the continuation of
UNPROFOR. The Russian Government knows that.
If there are discussions today on Bosnia, I'm sure that point will
be expressed as well.
Q Do you have reaction to the expulsion of Steven LeVine from
Russia, the journalist?
MR. BURNS: I do. Our Embassy in Moscow was quite active yesterday
on behalf of Steve LeVine, who is a stringer based in Tbilisi who tried
to enter Russia yesterday. He had a multiple-entry visa, was informed
it was no good and was denied access to Russia.
We think it's an important case. The Ambassador has given it his
personal attention. We are hopeful that we'll be able to work out a
resolution of this problem with the Russian authorities. We have a
clear view on this.
Q What is it?
MR. BURNS: The clear view is that he's a responsible journalist
and he should be given access to Russia.
Q Just a very quick question.
Q Same subject.
MR. BURNS: Same subject.
Q Do you see this as part of a bigger picture? Or do you see
this as a curtailment of press reporting and freedom of the press either
in terms of foreign correspondents' access in Russia and domestic
reporting in Russia? Is this part of a bigger picture?
MR. BURNS: I don't right now see it as part of a bigger picture
because I'm unaware of any other incidents that would let you develop a
One of the great improvements, the great advances in Russia over
the last couple of years has been a great fidelity, for the most part,
to the principle of freedom of the press, both in Russia and in allowing
foreign correspondents access. We think that's a very important
principle, and that's why we are actively involved in this particular
Q Thank you, Nick. Just a very quick question. Are you making
any headway in your discussion with the Chinese on the nuclear
cooperation issue with Iran? Has the Joint Working Group been set up?
Because the Chinese, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry
spokesman, still say -- they still insist on the peaceful nature of
MR. BURNS: When the Secretary met with Foreign Minister Qian a
week ago Monday, this was a major issue in their discussion. I think it
probably took as much time as any other issue in their two-hour meeting.
We made our views abundantly clear, and that is we think it is a mistake
for China to assist Iran in any way in developing its nuclear capacity
because we don't trust the long-term ambitions of Iran.
That view was presented very clearly in a straightforward way by
Secretary Christopher to the Foreign Minister. In the context of that
discussion, they agreed that we would establish a working group on this
issue, that the United States would give them -- the Chinese Government
-- additional information that we have that we hope would persuade them
to turn back on this deal. Our discussions will continue.
I don't know if there has been a formal meeting of this working
group, but I do know that there were expert level discussions in New
York following the meeting between the two Foreign Ministers.
Q Nick, can you clarify that a little bit? Is there a
distinction between "working group" and "experts"? The experts had met
and they would meet again in the summer, we were told in New York.
You're saying, apart from that there's some group being formed to
work on a day-to-day basis?
MR. BURNS: No, I think we're talking about the same group, Barry.
Q I think so.
MR. BURNS: We're talking about the same group.
Q It's in the summer they're supposed to meet, which sounded
like the Chinese were sort of pushing it, kicking the can way down the
MR. BURNS: But I don't accept that we have to wait until summer.
We have daily contacts with the Chinese Government through our Embassy.
We can certainly continue to supply them with information and arguments
and diplomatic representations on why we think this is not a positive
thing at all. We'll continue to do that. So it's not like we had a
meeting in New York last week and we're going to wait three months.
We'll be discussing this on a daily basis.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:51 p.m.)
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