U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/04/27 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Thursday, April 27, 1995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns DEPARTMENT/Announcement Daughters and Sons to Work Day ........................ 1 GUATEMALA Suspension of Two Officers; Devine/Bamaca Investigation U.S. Visit of Solicitor General ..................... 1 RUSSIA Report of Movement of Army Group into "Flank Zone" .... 2 Secretary Christopher/FM Kozyrev Discussions re: CFE .. 2 U.S./Russian Discussions re: Weapons Contracts w/Iran . 5-6 INDONESIA Possibility of U.S. Sale of F-16's .................... 2 ISRAEL Report of Confiscation of Land in East Jerusalem ...... 2-3 IRAN U.S. Policy Toward Iran/Sanctions ..................... 4-5 INDIA U.S/India Relations ................................... 3-4 JORDAN Request to Fly Libyan Pilgrims to Saudi Arabia ........ 4 TERRORISM Release of Report on Terrorism ........................ 5 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Secretary Christopher/Israeli & Syrian Ambassador Talks 6-7 Possibility of Military Officers Mtg. ................. 7 UNITED NATIONS Report of Funding of UN Organizations ................. 7 CHINA Report of Arrests of Buddist Monks and Nuns in Tibet .. 7-8 IRAQ Detained Americans: Permission Granted for Delivery; Status of Permit for Polish Diplomat's Access; Planned Visit of Wives ............................ 8-10 (###)
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, APRIL 27, 1995, 1:02 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon and welcome to the State Department briefing.
This is a very special day for us because many of us who are employees have brought our daughters and sons to work today, and I think they've had a pretty good time. They went up to the Operations Center and took a tour. They got to see the Diplomatic Reception Rooms. They also got to see how treaties are made, which I think was fun, and now some of them are here at the briefing, so I wanted to ask all of you who are participating to stand up.
I understand that Patrick Stockman is here and Katherine Wagman and Elizabeth Groh and a 6th grader from Vienna, Virginia -- Louise Archer Elementary School -- named Sarah Burns.
All of these kids are available to take questions either during the briefing or after the briefing, right? (Laughter) Thanks, kids.
Okay, I have no further announcements. I'll be glad to take any questions you have.
Q Should they cover their eyes and ears during this proceeding?
MR. BURNS: I don't think it's going to be that bad, but -- (laughter).
Q Do you have anything on the suspension of two Guatemalan officers?
MR. BURNS: Yes. We have seen the reports of the suspension, and we've been in touch with the Guatemalan Government. We think this is a positive development. We welcome the action by President De Leon to relieve these two colonels from their duties and place them on administrative suspension.
We hope and expect that this is a first step toward a new and reinvigorated Guatemalan investigation of the murders of Michael Devine and Efrain Bamaca. I understand that the Guatemalans Solicitor General, Leonel Machuca, is planning to visit Washington next week, and we intend to address these two investigations with him.
Q On another subject, Nick, have you had a chance to look into the report that the Russians announced that they're moving an army group into I think what you called a "flank zone"?
MR. BURNS: Yes. I've had a chance to ask some questions about that, and I have no further information on it. All that we have seen to date is the press report that you saw yesterday. Our position on CFE remains as I stated it yesterday. We think that CFE is a very important treaty.
Russia right now, I should remind you, is in compliance with the treaty. There will be a review conference in November of this year, and at that time countries will be measured to ascertain whether they remain in compliance, and we very much hope that Russia and all other countries will be in compliance by then.
Q Did this come up yesterday or today in the talks with Kozyrev?
MR. BURNS: The CFE issue was raised yesterday in the talks between Secretary Christopher and Minister Kozyrev. I don't believe it came up in the talks this morning, but I was not present, so you might direct that questions to the White House.
Q On a completely different subject, what is the Administration's policy on the sale of F-16s to Indonesia, and is there any renewed consideration of going through with such a sale?
MR. BURNS: Karen, let me check on that. I don't have any guidance on that, and I've not had any discussions on that within the building.
Q Nick, Israel confiscated some land in East Jerusalem. The Palestinians say they're very upset. Do you have a comment?
MR. BURNS: We've seen the reports of this. We have not been able to confirm the accuracy of the reports, and I understand that our diplomats in Jerusalem are checking into those reports.
Q American diplomats?
MR. BURNS: American diplomats. Yes, we have a Consul General in Jerusalem and have had for 160-odd years.
Q Have the Israelis lived up to the pledge made in -- was it March? -- at the Blair House talks about halting further settlement activity?
MR. BURNS: I think that's a question best directed to the Israelis and to the Palestinians, to the parties. As you know, we've been extremely reluctant to try to insert ourselves publicly in the middle of these disputes by our public comments. There is fortunately a mechanism through which they can work out these problems, and that's the Declaration of Principles. So I don't really have a response to that question.
Q Since Secretary Christopher made a big deal out of it at the time and it was an assurance made to the U.S. Government, I would have thought that the U.S. Government was interested in seeing if they continue to live up to that assurance.
MR. BURNS: We're always interested in making sure that there is progress in the talks, and we are often the party to some of the discussions, and we are a full partner in this peace process. But it's not been our habit to try to comment publicly or to keep score to see how both sides are doing. These are sensitive discussions that they've got underway, and we think that they can best proceed if countries outside the process -- like the United States -- relegate our comments to private discussions but not to engage in public debate.
Q One thing was left unclear when Christopher made his announcement. Did the Israeli assurance include what they call "greater Jerusalem," the annexed part of -- the part of the West Bank annexed since the 6-Day War?
MR. BURNS: I don't know, but we can certainly look into that, that being an important factual question.
Q Excuse me, on --
MR. BURNS: Are we still on the Middle East or any other Middle East questions?
Q Yes, Middle East. So far as Iran is concerned, the State Department earlier issued a policy statement whereby it is being described as one of the rogue states. Now I want to know, what is the official comment or reaction to India and Iran joining hands in defense exchange and a lot of other business -- contracts and agreements -- during the last visit of the President of Iran to New Delhi?
MR. BURNS: Let me just say I can reaffirm very simply and quickly our policy toward Iran. We think it is a rogue state, because it's a principal sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East. It's been entirely unhelpful on the question of the Middle East peace process, and we also have a lot of doubts about Iran's plans to develop a nuclear future for itself.
On the issue of Iran's ties with India, I would really leave that to the Indian Government and the Iranian Government to describe. We have a very good relationship with India. We have had a number of high- level visitors just in the last three or four months, which I think demonstrates that the United States and India have achieved a new level in their relationship, and it's an important relationship to us. But I don't want to get into comparing the relationship of two countries outside the United States.
Q Nick, same region, different subject. Does the Administration have anything to say about Jordan's request to fly Libyan pilgrims to Saudi Arabia?
MR. BURNS: We've noted the request. I believe there's been some discussion up at the United Nations today about this. We believe that the exception that the U.N. Sanctions Committee made last week to permit Egypt Air to ferry 6,000 Libyan pilgrims to Mecca this year will suffice; that it is a good step, a logical, reasonable humanitarian step for the international community to take, and we're just not convinced that it's necessary for additional government airlines outside of Libya to be given this exception. That's been our position over the past 24 hours at the U.N.
Q Is there any sort of quantitative analysis as far as how many Libyan pilgrims want to go and whether that 6,000 is enough?
MR. BURNS: I believe that the Islamic Conference does work out among all the Islamic countries an estimate of how many pilgrims from each of the countries will be going to Mecca in any given year, and it's not something that we're involved in. But since Egypt made the request to the U.N. Sanctions Committee, it made a request for 45 flights to carry 6,000 people. We are under the assumption, the understanding, that that will be sufficient, and therefore we don't believe it's necessary to add to the number of flights.
Q I have a follow-up on that answer you gave about Iran. Is it true that the Department is considering seriously any economic or trade embargo in Iran?
MR. BURNS: The Administration has been considering further measures to try to isolate Iran, as is well known. I think the position of the Department of State and indeed of Secretary Christopher is well- known, that is, that there should be a toughening of those sanctions. But we are awaiting a decision on this question from the White House.
Q Will it affect India's trade with Iran?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q Will that affect India's trade with Iran?
MR. BURNS: I just can't say right now. There are a number of options that were developed here in Washington by a variety of agencies, but I'm not at liberty to discuss those options, and we'll just have to see the decision that the President makes on this.
Q Since we've gotten into the issue of rogue states and rogues in general, can you say when the terrorism report is coming out?
MR. BURNS: I'm hopeful it will be coming out very soon. I believe it's got to come out by the 1st of the month. When it is ready to be published -- we've got to send it to Capitol Hill, to the Congress -- and when that is final and ready, then I'll try to arrange a special briefing here for you on that report.
Q Nick, let's go back to Iran -- the gentleman's question. There's nothing the President can do to limit other nations from dealing with Iran.
MR. BURNS: I think it's fair to say that most of the options have to do with what United States' policy should be and what impact it will have both on our government entities and our private companies. I'm not aware of any proposals that would extend the reach, as this gentleman has suggested.
Q On Iran, are the Russians backsliding on the promise made that there would be no new arms contracts on conventional weapons to Iran, but they would fulfill the existing contracts?
MR. BURNS: This is an issue that has been discussed intensively with the Russians over the last year or so, especially since the September 1994 Summit here in Washington between President Clinton and President Yeltsin. It is an issue that came up, that was raised yesterday by the Secretary of State, and this morning, as I understand it, by the President during his phone call with President Yeltsin.
We remain hopeful that President Clinton and President Yeltsin might be able to work out a final understanding and agreement on this issue at the May 10 and 11 Summit.
Q I thought there was a pretty clear understanding at the Washington Summit, which was that Yeltsin pledged that there would be no new contracts.
MR. BURNS: That's correct, and I think it was made clear -- I think even at the press conference during that summit -- that the next step was for Russia and the United States to compare information about what the extent of the pipeline for those arms was, and that has been underway for a number of months, and that is the discussion that we hope very much might end up in an agreement in Moscow.
Q To put it another way: Have there been any new contracts signed between Iran and Russia regarding the sale of conventional weapons?
MR. BURNS: I have no information on that. I don't have any detailed information on this issue; have not had for several months, but I have no information that that is the case. That, of course, would not be consistent with the basic outline of this understanding that we're trying to develop.
Q Can I ask about the negotiations between the Ambassadors of Israel and Syria --
MR. BURNS: Excuse me, I didn't catch the first part of the question.
Q The Ambassadors of Israel and Syria in Washington. First, what do you expect, if there are expectations at all? Second, how do you prepare the visits of Rabin and Shara? And if there is any consideration of a meeting between President Clinton and Shara in Washington during his visit?
MR. BURNS: I can tell you that there have been some discussions this week that have included the Syrian and Israeli Ambassadors and U.S. officials. On Tuesday, Secretary Christopher met with both of the Ambassadors and had good discussions.
We remain focused now on trying to move this track along, and remain focused particularly on the security dimension of these talks.
Q What about the other questions about --
MR. BURNS: I don't speak for the White House. I only speak for the State Department, so I can't speak to whether or not there's been a decision for the President and Prime Minister Rabin to get together. That's a question you should direct to the White House.
Q What about Shara? Is the Administration considering a meeting between Shara and the President?
MR. BURNS: I don't have any information on that for you.
Q What about Shara -- coming to visit in Washington?
MR. BURNS: I don't have any information on his visit. I have nothing to relay.
Q Mr. Burns, Morris Abrams, the former representative of the United States to the United Nations in Geneva, points out that the United Nations continues to fund U.N. organs to the tune of $6.1 million every biennium for organizations to bash Israel. Has anything been done about that by the United States? Has the Ambassador at the United Nations done anything about this position?
MR. BURNS: I'm sorry, I haven't seen Ambassador Abrams remarks, so I don't have much to say.
Q There's an excerpt in the Washington Post this morning of an article he had in the Jerusalem Report, and this is what I'm referring to. Can we get something later on on it?
MR. BURNS: Let me see what I can do. I haven't seen the report you're referring to, so it's pretty hard for me to respond to it.
Q Have the Ambassadors met since Tuesday?
MR. BURNS: I don't know. I know that there was a meeting with the Secretary on Tuesday.
Our practice has been not to try to forecast events in the future. I just know that there was the one meeting on Tuesday with the Secretary.
Q Is there any impending meeting of the high-ranking military officers?
MR. BURNS: That is something that we remain interested in pursuing. As far as I know, there is no further development on that, on the prospect for that meeting.
Q Nick, have you seen the report from Beijing about Chinese police supposedly having raided some Buddhist monasteries in Tibet and arresting nuns and monks?
MR. BURNS: Yes, we saw the report, George. We're disturbed by the press reports of the new arrests of the Buddhist monks and nuns in Tibet.
We have repeatedly urged the Chinese Government to respect the right of Tibetans to practice their religion freely and to express their political views peacefully.
Assistant Secretary of State John Shattuck reiterated these views on this issue in January during the seventh round of our bilateral human rights dialogue.
I should also note that a week ago Monday, up in New York, Secretary Christopher raised this issue with his counterpart, Foreign Minister Qian. As you know, our 1994 Country Report on Human Rights Practices for China describes in some detail China's restrictions on religious practice in Tibet. So we have seen the report and that is our reaction to it.
Q But that's only reaction to press reports. You have no independent confirmation from the Embassy?
MR. BURNS: As I say, yes, we're disturbed by the press reports. At this point, I'm not aware that we have independent confirmation from any of our consulates in western China or from the Embassy in Beijing.
Q Do you have anything on the health or condition of the Americans being held in Iraq? Have the Poles tried to get in?
MR. BURNS: I have a little bit of information on that. Mr. Krystosik, the Polish representative of the United States in Baghdad, was informed yesterday by senior officials of the Consular Department of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry that permission had been granted for a messenger in the U.S. Interests Section to make a delivery to Mr. Daliberti and Mr. Barloon. This was the first time in two weeks that representatives of the United States had had a chance to see both men.
Mr. Krystosik was told that the permit for his weekly access had not yet been obtained and was not yet possible to give him.
Now, the messenger -- we were able to send a messenger to the jail. This person delivered mail, including a letter from Mr. Krystosik to Mr. Daliberti and Mr. Barloon, which explained that he had been denied access to them and that their wives were going to be arriving soon with other supplies for them.
The prison staff told the U.S. Interests Section messenger that the two Americans were well.
This is a very small step after two weeks of no news. We would like larger steps -- more positive steps, more helpful steps. It's not enough to be told by prison staff that the two prisoners are well when one of them has a
heart condition. It is imperative that when Mrs. Daliberti and Mrs. Barloon arrive, they be given direct access to them, and that proper medical care be given to both men.
Mr. Krystosik has left Baghdad for Amman where he's meeting the two American women tomorrow. They're going to be driving back up to Baghdad. It's a 12-hour drive. In the meantime, there are other Polish diplomats who represent the United States and they will continue to press for immediate access in advance of the visit of the two wives to the two detained Americans.
Q Nick, this messenger did not see the two detainees? He was just allowed to deliver what he delivered to the guards and they theoretically gave it to the prisoners, but you don't know whether they gave that stuff to Mr. Daliberti and Mr. Barloon?
MR. BURNS: I'm reading between the lines here. I think that's probably right, Sid. We don't have any indication that he got into the cell, the very small cell in which they reside, to see them. We just have this report that he was allowed to bring a package to the jail. He received this very bare information about their conditions. Again, it's just not good enough. It's not good enough because it violates every humanitarian principle that any normal nation should adhere to.
Q Nick, who was the representative again, specifically?
MR. BURNS: He was a messenger from the U.S. Interests Section in Baghdad, so he was not an American. He was either a Pole or an Iraqi. I'm sorry to say, I don't know the nationality of the messenger.
Q Nick, do you know if the Iraqis have agreed to a specific time for these women to see their husbands?
MR. BURNS: I don't. We have an assurance that they're going to get visas once they both arrive in Amman, and they should both be there by tomorrow morning.
We have every expectation that having been given the visas, they would be given the visas for the sole purpose of being allowed to see their husbands. We very much hope the Iraqis will meet that expectation.
Q Do you know what was in the package?
MR. BURNS: Yes. As I said, there was a letter from Mr. Krystosik. I think there was some other mail that had built up for them, and I think there was some communications from their families.
Q Nothing in the way of food or medicine, or anything like that?
MR. BURNS: I don't know. But in his previous visits, Mr. Krystosik had delivered both food and medicine to them, so I wouldn't be surprised. I just don't have any detail about what was in the package.
Q Nothing from the President and the Secretary of State?
MR. BURNS: On this particular issue?
Q No -- a letter from President Clinton or Secretary Christopher to the two prisoners?
MR. BURNS: No, not that I'm aware of.
Q Thank you.
MR. BURNS: Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:22 p.m.)
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