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                    U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
                     DAILY PRESS BRIEFING 
                          I N D E X 
                      Friday, May 12, 1995 
                                       Briefer:  David Johnson 
U.S./Mexico Binational Commission Meeting ...........  1 
Reports on Ebola Virus Epidemic .....................  1 
-  Public Announcement on Travel ....................  2 
-  U.S. AID Assistance ..............................  2 
-  Deaths from Virus ................................  2 
-  Update on Fighting ...............................  3 
-  Wounding of French Peacekeeper ...................  3-4 
-  Recent Remarks by A/S Holbrooke, Amb. Albright ...  3 
-  Dual Key Arrangement .............................  3-4 
-  Report of UN Secretary General/FM Juppe Mtg. .....  4 
-  Contact Group Meeting ............................  4-5 
-  Expropriation of Land ............................  5-7,14-15 
-  Report of Plans for Arab Housing .................  15 
-  Legislation re: Relocation of American Embassy ...  6 
-  Security/Defense--U.S. Cooperation ...............  7-8 
-  Compliance with Trade Agreement with U.S. ........  8 
Peace Process 
-  Meeting of Middle East Steering Committee ........  9 
Framework Agreement 
-  Venue/Time for Next Round of Talks ................  8 
North Korean Walk-out from Non-Proliferation Conference  8-9 
Status of Mr. Constant ...............................  9 
Rescue of 11 Cuban Migrants ..........................  9-10 
Status of 13 Migrants Returned on 5/9 ................  10-11 
Investigation of DeVine and Bamaca Case ..............  11-12 
A/S Lord/Dir., Taipei Econ. & Cultural Rep. Office Mtg.  12 
U.S. Position on Visit of Li Teng-hui ................  12-13 
Competing Sovereignty Claims/Maritime Claims .........  13 
Report of New Army in Northern Caucasus ..............  14 
American Detainees 
-   Mtg. between Spouses/U.S. Ambassador to Jordan ...  14 



DPB #68

FRIDAY, MAY 12, 1995, 1:09 P.M.

MR. JOHNSON: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I've got a brief statement I'd like to read to bring something to your attention before we get started with your questions -- to let you know about something that is happening in the Department next week.

The United States will host the next meeting of the United States- Mexico Binational Commission at the Department of State on Tuesday, May l6.

Secretary of State Warren Christopher will lead the United States delegation, which includes several Cabinet officials and other agency chiefs. Mexican Foreign Secretary Jose Angel Gurria will lead the Mexican delegation. President Clinton plans to receive the senior members of the Binational Commission at the White House on Tuesday.

This year's Binational Commission meeting is the l2th since 1981, the third in which Secretary Christopher has participated, and the first meeting involving the administration of Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo.

There is a fuller announcement which gives a great deal of logistical detail which we will post in the Press Office following the briefing. And with that, I'll be glad to take your questions.

Q Do you have anything new on the situation in Zaire?

MR. JOHNSON: A little bit. I'll be glad to share with you what I have.

Just to try to add to what we have talked about before rather than repeating every piece of it, reports from Zaire indicate that in addition to Kikwit, there may have been deaths attributed to the ebola virus in nearby towns of Musongo, Kenge, Vanga, Gundu, Kara and Banga.

As we have noted before, the disease is serious and communicable and has caused several fatalities among the local population and among health care workers including three Italian nuns.

Early reports of the numbers of deaths from the virus, however, were incorrect. As of yesterday, total deaths attributed to the ebola virus are estimated at 33, including a number of health care workers.

A number of the deaths previously attributed to the virus appear to have occurred from a long-standing outbreak of bloody diarrhea in the Bandundu region. This is not related to the ebola virus.

As we have noted before, this virus has an extremely high fatality rate. A similar outbreak in '76 killed 276 of 300 persons who were infected.

A team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention arrived in Zaire late on May ll to participate in a World Health Organization mission to help the Government of Zaire combat the outbreak.

The team consulted with the Zairian Government and World Health Organization officials, as well as local health authorities, and traveled to the affected area at 4:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time today.

The Department issued a new public announcement on this outbreak yesterday. The change in the announcement from previously, and instead of encouraging people to postpone, we are telling them at this point to postpone any travel to or near the affected area.

We are continuing to monitor the situation and will try to report new developments as necessary.

I mentioned yesterday when I talked to some of you that the AID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance was going to be sending medical supplies to the area. The aircraft containing those supplies, a C-l4l, has departed and will arrive in Zaire on May 14 at nine in the morning, Eastern time.

Q Do you have a breakdown on the 33 deaths, or how many are health care workers?

MR. JOHNSON: I don't. I'll attempt to get that for you, as well as nationalities to the extent that they are non-Zairian.

Q David, what do you have on the situation in Bosnia, particularly around Sarajevo? Are things as grim as they are reported to be?

MR. JOHNSON: The reports that I have indicate that fighting involving Bosnian Government, Bosnian-Croat, and Bosnian-Serb forces continues in the Orasje pocket and Posavina in Northeast Bosnia, and that sniping and mortar fire continue in and around Sarajevo.

The United States Government wishes to express its sorrow and outrage at the grave wounding of a French peacekeeper in a sniping incident in Sarajevo yesterday. The French contingent has sacrificed greatly in carrying out a dangerous humanitarian and peacekeeping mission in Bosnia. We continue to believe that UNPROFOR has done a good job under extremely difficult circumstances.

Assistant Secretary Holbrooke spoke about air strikes in the context yesterday of the slow but sure strangulation of Sarajevo, a matter we have discussed in great detail in recent days, particularly, Assistant Secretary Holbrooke and Ambassador Albright.

Mr. Holbrooke urged the U.N. to call on NATO for assistance to prevent that strangulation from continuing. He also said that NATO support is vital for U.N. operations and without it the U.N. could be driven out of Bosnia.

Q Well, the dual key arrangement is still in effect around Sarajevo, right?

MR. JOHNSON: That is correct.

Q And UNPROFOR has said that they are not going to turn their key.

MR. JOHNSON: And we have made our feelings known about that and encouraged them to reconsider their opinion.

Q And have they said that they would?

MR. JOHNSON: I don't have anything of a further reaction from them on that.

Q Is this part of the -- do you think that the dual key is one of the things that is pushing Boutros-Ghali to call for a relook at the policy?

MR. JOHNSON: I'll let the U.N. Secretary General's spokesman talk about what his reasons are for calling for a review of the policy. Clearly the dual key approach has been a complicating factor, although we have recognized all along that in order to protect troops on the ground, you need to have the cooperation and permission of their commander to do so. And so whatever formulation may be worked out in the future, whether it is for Bosnia or any other future mission where the U.N. and NATO or the United States and the U.N. are involved, would need to take account of that concrete fact, and that is that people have to be protected who are on the ground.

There may be other reasons for the Secretary General to want to reconsider the issue related to various remarks others have made about the continuity of their forces in the region, but I'll leave that up to the U.N. to describe for you.

Q Have we encouraged the U.N. to review the policy?

MR. JOHNSON: I'm unaware of anything specific on that, excepting our very public statements by our Ambassador to the U.N. concerning their failure to call in NATO air support in the last few days.

Q David, do you have anything on the meeting between Boutros- Ghali and Alain Juppe in Paris, anything regarding the Chirac Government's policy toward retaining their troops or removing their troops from Bosnia?

MR. JOHNSON: We have made ourselves clear on a number of occasions in the past how much we admire the work that the French peacekeeping contingent has been doing, and I just said earlier today how outraged we were -- and are -- at the sniping incident yesterday which gravely wounded a French peacekeeper, but I think I'll leave it to Mr. Juppe's spokesman and the U.N. spokesman to comment on U.N.-French meetings.

Q Okay, but the French have not informed us directly as to the results of this meeting or to the new policy of the new French Government.

MR. JOHNSON: I'm unaware of any such conversation, and also would note that the new French Government is still a few days from taking office.

Q A couple of questions on --

MR. JOHNSON: Can we finish with this?

Q Do you have anything, any read-out on the Contact Group meeting today?

MR. JOHNSON: I don't. I would note for you that Contact Group political directors met today in Frankfurt to continue discussions on a package which provides some sanctions relief for Milosevic in return for his recognition of Bosnia, and enhanced efforts to monitor the border closure between Bosnia and Serbia. They also discussed the precarious security situation both in Bosnia and Croatia.

Assistant Secretary Holbrooke, who is the United States' representative at that meeting, is enroute to New York right now, and we awaiting his return for a more detailed read-out.

Q David, do you have any sense that Milosevic is closer to saying yes than he has been?

MR. JOHNSON: I don't want to characterize that reaction in light of the fact that I have --

Q There are reports that they were making progress on working out a package with Milosevic.

MR. JOHNSON: The work is continuing. The Contact Group having met today, though, and me not having a full read-out on that, I think it would preclude me from trying to give you a very helpful indication on that. We are hopeful and we are continuing to work.

Q Are you also aware of a report from the U.N. that some people in Bihac have been so long without food that they were asking the U.N. for poison to put themselves out of that misery --

MR. JOHNSON: That's a not a report that I'm familiar with, no.

Q (Inaudible).

MR. JOHNSON: Are we finished with this part of the world?

Q On Jerusalem, the Arab group plans to call the Security Council at the United Nations for a session, or they are consulting. I know that Morocco and the United Arab Emirates are calling for the intervention of the Security Council regarding the expropriation of land in Jerusalem.

I understand that Mrs. Albright already said that if such a resolution would come out, she would veto it. Based on what will she veto it? Is that an advance position before deliberation in the Council? How do you justify a veto if the discussion has not gone on yet?

MR. JOHNSON: We've made very clear on a number of occasions that we believe that this is a matter which is best worked out not in the U.N. context but in negotiations between the parties affected; and we don't believe that the involvement of the U.N. would be helpful. It's on that basis that our ambassador made such a statement.

Q Since the Clinton Administration -- or the U.S. Administration -- opposes the Jerusalem Embassy relocation legislation in 1995, submitted by Senator Dole and Congressman, or Chairman of the Congress, Mr. Gingrich, do you expect the Administration or the President to have a much more vocal position in addition to the statement that was issued by Mr. Christopher a couple of days ago, and possibly that the President might veto such a resolution if it will come?

MR. JOHNSON: I generally have the White House speak about what the President does, and I will do so in this case as well. I think the statement which was issued by the Secretary here, that he directed us to issue about this issue, states our position on it very clearly. It's a position we will pursue with the Congress as this piece of legislation moves through the process.

Q One last thing. There is one little item of news this morning that Israel will not expropriate a piece of property or land which belongs one of the Christian churches -- I don't know which church; I forgot the name of the church -- and they will have to get approval or license possibly by Iran. Are you taking some comfort in the way that they, if not backing off, are taking another look at the expropriation mediums or measures?

MR. JOHNSON: I'd like to take a look at what you described before I give you a reaction. I know that this is an issue where we try to be very careful in our descriptions. I don't have any advance prepared material to respond directly to that question. Let me see what I can find out for you.

Q David, going back to my previous answer, you say that this issue of confiscation or expropriation is best handled in negotiations between the parties. Which parties?

MR. JOHNSON: Between the parties to the peace process.

Q Well, the Israelis have unilaterally, arbitrarily, declared there is confiscation; there is no negotiation involved.

MR. JOHNSON: Any issue related to Jerusalem -- we've always said that we believe it should be handled between the parties concerned.

Q Then, does that mean that you think the Israeli Government should have notified/negotiated with the other parties before going ahead with the confiscation?

MR. JOHNSON: We've made ourselves clear on how we feel about this. I don't think it's helpful for me to go into the detail on the hypothetical nature of the question that you raise as to how we think things should have been done.

Q It's not hypothetical.

MR. JOHNSON: I take your point. Because the incident has occurred, it's not hypothetical. I think I've said what I have to say on this.

Q Also in the Middle East. Sunday night, at the AIPAC meeting, in reference to the negotiations between Israel and Syria, the President went through a list of the military equipment that has been delivered to the Israelis, and continued saying something like the United States is giving Israel the means to protect its own security by itself. It was in reference to the Golan.

Does that mean that the United States has given up the option of possibly using U.S. forces as a security-blocking force on the Golan as part of an agreement?

MR. JOHNSON: I don't think the President's remarks were made in that type of context. The United States has always understood that Israel has to be able to provide for its own defense. We, of course, have a long-standing commitment to the survival and security of the State of Israel, which we believe serves the best interests of the United States.

In that context, we are committed to continuing our strategic cooperation with Israel to ensure that Israel maintains its qualitative edge.

Q Does that mean, then, the United States is still considering the possibility of the option of sending U.S. forces to the Golan as part of an agreement?

MR. JOHNSON: It means that the remarks by the President were not made in the context of the Golan.

Q A new subject? There's been two Congressmen visiting Israel last week protesting the fact that the Israelis are apparently not in accord with our free trade agreement. Are you familiar with that issue as far as tariffs, or has that been discussed here? Maybe I missed it.

MR. JOHNSON: As far as I know, it has not been discussed here. I'm not terribly familiar with it. If you want to elucidate your question, I'll see if I can find an answer for you.

Q Well, the Congressman said that Israel should lower its tariffs according to the agreement that was made four years ago -- almost four years ago -- and is being implemented gradually. The President made a statement at AIPAC in which he said that $8 billion worth of exports have come under the Free Trade Agreement; that Israel has the freest trade with the United States of any other country. No other country has the arrangements that Israel has.

In that context, two Congressmen appeared in Jerusalem last week, and it was reported in the Jerusalem Post as having said that she was in violation of that agreement by not lowering her agricultural tariffs.

MR. JOHNSON: Let me see what our position is on the compliance with the trade agreement. I'll see if I can get something on that.

Q Do you have anything more on the North Korea agreement talks?

MR. JOHNSON: Not really. We're continuing our exchange. We've not yet responded to the letter -- the latest letter, excuse me -- from Vice Foreign Minister Kang. We expect to do so shortly, possibly as early as this afternoon.

The question of venue and timing, as it has over several days, remains undecided.

Q Did they propose (inaudible)?

MR. JOHNSON: I'm not going to get into the substance of what our exchange has been. We've managed to keep that as a principle throughout this series of letter-exchanges. I think I'm going to stay with that.

Q A follow-up. Do you attach any significance to North Korea walking out of the NPT Conference yesterday before the decision was made to extend the treaty? Does that affect their participation within the NPT framework at all, or the IAEA's people there?

MR. JOHNSON: It has no effect on their participation in or they're being bound by the terms of the treaty.

Q One more on the Middle East. There is a meeting next week of the Middle East Steering Committee in Montreux, Switzerland. Mr. Pelletreau will be there to represent the United States. Do you have anything on that?

MR. JOHNSON: I don't, right at my fingertips. I believe we may be putting out something on that later in the afternoon. I'll get around to you.

Q I have different questions, all about Latin America. One of them, Mr. Emmanuel Constant is now under INS custody in Maryland. Can you please tell us what takes precedent -- the deportation process or the extradition that has been requested by Haiti?

MR. JOHNSON: A couple of points. The individual in question, were he deported or were he extradited, would end up in the same place, so I'm not certain what the material distinction is.

Q (Inaudible) deportation, he can say, "I don't want to go."

MR. JOHNSON: One can say, if one is deported. I'm uncertain whether we have an extradition request, formalized in hand. I know we do not talk about extradition requests, so I will not promise you. I will inform you later if we have an extradition request outstanding. Until those are formalized and the individuals rendered, we generally don't engage in much discussion of them. That's not something I think I'm going to be able to help you with.

It is our intention to return Mr. Constant after due process of law to Haiti.

Q Since we are in the region, do you have any information on another group of Cuban rafters picked up in the last few hours?

MR. JOHNSON: Picked up in the last few hours? I have some information that on May 10, nine Cuban migrants were rescued from a sinking boat by a Coast Guard cutter north of Cuba. The same cutter intercepted two more migrants on May 11 in the Florida Straits.

A Coast Guard cutter and an INS officer aboard the cutter informed the migrants that they were being returned to Cuba and that the Cuban Government had assured the United States Government that no migrants thus returned would be harassed or prejudiced in any way.

None of those 11 expressed fears that would preclude their return. The 11 migrants were returned to the Cuban Port of Cabanas at 12:23 p.m. today. They were met in Cabanas by officers from the United States Interests Section in Havana. Those officers are informing them of legal migration opportunities through the U.S. Interests Section and collecting biographic data for subsequent monitoring.

Officers from the U.S. Interests Section will visit this group of returnees as soon as possible, and an officer may be dispatched as early as today to their hometown for this express purpose.

Q Have they visited the previous group that went home?

MR. JOHNSON: They certainly have.

Q Are they safe and well?

MR. JOHNSON: Excuse me?

Q They're safe and well?

MR. JOHNSON: Two officers from the U.S. Interests Section in Havana have been in the eastern Cuban province of Camaguey since May 10 to meet with the 13 migrants returned to Cuba on May 9. The officers have met with 12 of the migrants and hope to meet with the 13th migrant today. They've enjoyed full access to them.

The migrants have been able to freely meet as a group among themselves, and have been able to meet both individually and as a group with U.S. officers.

Q A few of the migrants complained to the officers of minor harassment since their return to Camaguey. The U.S. Government takes such complaints seriously.

The United States Interests Section's principal officer, Joe Sullivan, has already met yesterday with Ricardo Alarcon in Havana to express our concerns. Mr. Alarcon reiterated his government's assurance that the returned migrants will not be harassed or otherwise prejudiced for having attempted to leave Cuba illegally.

The Interests Section plans to continue to closely monitor the treatment of these individuals.

Q What does the minor harassment continue -- consist of? What did the minor harassment consist of?

MR. JOHNSON: I'm not sure what exactly it consisted of.

Q What did Alarcon say about it? Did he have any explanation? Did he pon it off as officials in the provinces who hadn't gotten the word?

MR. JOHNSON: He made it clear that they would not be harassed.

Q This latest 11 who have been returned, did they have any sort of hearing with INS or anybody else as to their possible claims to refugee status before they were returned to Cuba?

MR. JOHNSON: They met with an INS officer on board the vessel. He determined, after meeting with them, that there were no fears which would preclude them pursuing whatever avenues they might wish at our Interests Section in Havana.

Q (Inaudible) phraseology on that referred to credible fears of what religious or political persecution. You seemed to have contracted the language a bit.

MR. JOHNSON: The Attorney General made an announcement at the White House last week which expressed the standard that would be used in this case, and that is, persons who claim a need for protection that they believe cannot be satisfied by applying at the United States Interests Section in Havana, will be examined by a trained INS officer prior to their return.

If that officer believes that the migrant cannot be safely returned and has a genuine need for protection that cannot be satisfied by applying to the in-country program, that migrant will not be returned to Cuba.

Q I understand why you use the shorthand now.

MR. JOHNSON: I will try to do so in the future, too, to save you scribbling.

Q Latin America -- I have another one. On Guatemala: The Special Investigator in the DeVine and Bamaca case was removed off the cases a few hours before he was scheduled to come to Washington and have some interviews here. Are you concerned that this is another delay in the investigation of these cases?

MR. JOHNSON: I had a reaction to that, I think, a couple of days earlier in the week. If you get in touch with us, we can help you. I don't have it with me today.

Q China?

MR. JOHNSON: Please.

Q We understand -- well, there have been press reports that Assistant Secretary Lord met with the representative of Taiwan here in the U.S. a few days ago. During the meeting, he complained to the Taiwanese that -- he was complaining about the excessive lobbying efforts on behalf of Taiwan on Capitol Hill for a private visit by President Li Teng-hui to this country. Could you tell us more about it, or confirm it?

MR. JOHNSON: I can make a few points for you. The American Institute in Taiwan and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States are the two organizations established to manage the unofficial relations between the United States and Taiwan.

AIT arranges meetings from time to time at which members of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States, including its Director, Benjamin Lu, and members of the Administration are present.

There was such a meeting yesterday at which Assistant Secretary Lord and Mr. Lu were present. They meet frequently -- that means a few times a year -- but in this case, as in others, we're not going to comment on the topics they discussed in their meeting.

Q Was that yesterday or Wednesday?

MR. JOHNSON: Excuse me, it was the 9th.

Q Could you comment on Taiwan's lobbying efforts, in general? You don't have to disclose the actual exchanges at the meeting, but what is your response to Taiwan's lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill for a private visit to this country by President Li Teng-hui?

MR. JOHNSON: I'd only respond that our position on such a visit has been made clear a number of times here, from this lectern, and from other spokesmen for the Department. We do not view a visit as appropriate or possible, and have suggested that a transit might be possible. I'm not going to get into the issue of the conduct on the Hill.

Q Another question. Also regarding China, if I may. The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman has been quoted as refuting a statement made by Christine (Shelly) on Wednesday regarding the island in the South China Sea. The Chinese were basically telling the U.S., "It's none of your business and butt out." Would you have any response to that?

MR. JOHNSON: I'd like to reiterate that we take no position on the legal merits of competing sovereignty claims over the various islands, reefs, atolls, and cays in the South China Sea, but that we would view with serious concern any maritime claim, or restriction on maritime activity, in the South China Sea that was not consistent with international law, including the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

We believe that nonclaimants in the South China Sea region have important interests in seeing that these competing claims are resolved peacefully and in a manner consistent with international law.

However, the competing sovereignty claims are an issue for the claimants themselves to resolve among themselves.

The United States is not planning to take an active role unilaterally in this dispute.

Q If I may follow, David, Mr. Qian of the Foreign Ministry did say, regarding the Spratlys, that China -- he had declared China's irrefutable sovereignty over the islands, and accused the Philippines of inflaming the issue by recently taking journalists to the islands. And on that issue of the Philippines, what is the nature of our treaty obligations to the Philippines, especially our defense treaty obligation? Does it extend into the Spratly area, or could we be bound to defend Philippine naval vessels that might be tangling with the Chinese, who seem to be getting more and more belligerent about the Spratlys here.

MR. JOHNSON: A classic hypothetical situation. I can only tell you that we -- the United States honors its treaty commitments, and we will do so in the future.

Q But what I am saying is, do our treaty commitments go out into the Spratlys? How far do they extend with regard to the Philippines?

MR. JOHNSON: In the case when our treaty might need to be invoked, that would be something that we would have to determine, but I'm not going to engage in a discussion of that today.

Q Could you take that?

MR. JOHNSON: I could not. Yes, ma'am.

Q What is the State Department's position regarding the creation of the Russian 58th Army in the northern Caucasus?

MR. JOHNSON: Could I --

Q The State Department position about the creation of the Russian -- a new army by Russia in the northern Caucasus called the 58th Army.

MR. JOHNSON: With our travelers on the way home, I think I'm going to let that stay until they return. I was unfamiliar with the creation of a new army. I don't dispute that it has been created, but let me let the folks who have been in the region get back on the ground until we pursue an answer for that.

Q David, you said the two wives were going to meet with the U.S. Ambassador in Amman. Did that meeting take place, and did you learn anything?

MR. JOHNSON: The meeting did take place. The two spouses late last night arrived in Amman and were met by U.S. Embassy personnel. They met with the Ambassador this morning, who conveyed the United States Government's concern for their husbands.

The two spouses departed Amman late this afternoon for Kuwait, where they will be met there and assisted by United States Embassy personnel. There continues to be no response, Iraqi response, to Mr. Krystosik, our Polish representative there, to his repeated requests for access to Mr. Barloon and Mr. Daliberti.

He is continuing to press for such access, but I don't have any sort of read-out for you on the conversation between the two spouses and Mr. Egan, our Ambassador.

Q Just to nail something down on our Jerusalem policy, the unchanging unchangeable U.S. policy on Jerusalem, as I understand it amounts to basically that it should be settled by negotiation between the various parties.

Do you regard the Israeli unilateral action, the confiscation, to be in contravention of that policy?

MR. JOHNSON: I think we have made ourselves clear on the issue of land confiscations or condemnations, and I think I'll leave it right there. I don't want to get any further into that.

Q Well, could you restate it as it applies to this case?

MR. JOHNSON: Well, as my colleagues here I think have stated it over the last couple of days, I think I will refer you to their remarks.

Q David, in that connection, Peres has announced that there are going to be substantial numbers of Arab housing built in East Jerusalem, and Olmert even claims that they have plans for up to 15,000 new units for Arabs.

Has the United States been involved in pressing this as a balancer to the other?

MR. JOHNSON: I'm unaware of exactly what our involvement has been in such an issue. I'll see if we wish to make a comment on it.

Q Thank you.

MR. JOHNSON: Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 1:41 p.m.)


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