U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/05/19 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, May 19, 1995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns NORTH KOREA U.S.-DPRK Talks--U.S. Delegation in Kuala Lumpur .....1 Nuclear Freeze, Implementation of Agreed Framework ...1 --Suspension of Deliveries of Heavy Fuel Oil/ Diversions/Monitoring Mechanism ..................2-4,6-7 --Exchange of Liaison Offices ........................2 --Storage of Spent Fuel/LW Reactor Project ...........2 --North-South Dialogue ...............................2 CHINA/TAIWAN Taiwan President Lee's Request for Transit Visa ......4-6 JAPAN Bombing of Subway in Tokyo--Possible Japanese Request for Investigation of Dalai Lama Group in U.S. ......7 IRAN Number of Russian Engineers/Technicians in Iran ......7-8, Russia/China Cooperation in Dev. of Nuclear Program ..7-11 G-7 Concensus re: Nuclear Cooperation w/Iran .........8 U.S. Screening/Denial of Iranian Student Visas .......9-10 Pakistan-Iran Cooperation ............................10 U.S. Boycott .........................................19 RUSSIA Chechnya --Search for Fred Cuny ...............................11-12 --Chris Cuny Mtgs. w/U.S. Officials in Washington ....12 TURKEY/GREECE Cyprus ...............................................12-13 CUBA Migrant Boat w/23 Intercepted by U.S. Coast Guard ....13-15 Helms-Burton Legislation/Cuban Democracy Act .........15-17 Undersecretary Tarnoff Congressional Testimony .......16 LEBANON Resignation of Prime Minister Hariri .................17 U.S.-Syria Discussions re: Presidential Election .....17 ECUADOR State Department Document re: Ecuador-Peru Border ....17-18 ALGERIA Terrorism ............................................18-19 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Ambassador Frasure Talks in Belgrade .................19-22 Fighting Update ......................................20 UNPROFOR .............................................20 Secretary Christopher/Secretary Hurd Discussions .....20 ANGOLA Mr. Mugabe Visit to U.S. .............................22-23 MISCELLANEOUS Humanitarian Aid Corridor ............................23
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, MAY 19, 1995, 1:04 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. It's nice to see all of you today. I have no opening statement, no announcements to make, so I'll be glad to go directly to whatever questions you have.
Q Nick, could you run through U.S. policy on North Korea again -- the nuclear thing? Is delivery of oil -- (laughter) --
MR. BURNS: Barry, why do you want me to do that?
Q I don't know. Because some people can't get it straight, I think. Can you possibly tell us if delivery of additional shipments of oil is contingent at all on North Korea accepting light-water reactors from South Korea?
MR. BURNS: Okay. I anticipated this. I thought there might be some interest in North Korea today, so what I'm prepared to do --
Q You've been briefed?
MR. BURNS: I have been briefed. So what I'm prepared to do is actually recite chapter and verse today and just put everything out in one place and see if we can clear up any misunderstandings.
Let me say first of all that our delegation arrived in Kuala Lumpur this morning, led by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Tom Hubbard. It is not going to be possible to have any meetings today because I understand the North Korean delegation arrived too late in the day for meetings to be scheduled, so the first meetings will be held tomorrow morning -- that's Saturday morning.
Let me just once again review our policy on North Korea. Our basic policy is that as North Korea maintains the freeze on its nuclear program, we will continue to implement the Agreed Framework. We know that as of today the freeze is being implemented, is being maintained. We know that because there is continuous IAEA monitoring of the North Korean nuclear reactor that has been shut down.
This means that with the freeze in place, we are prepared to make deliveries of heavy fuel oil but only when North Korea agrees on a mechanism, on steps that will enable us to verify that this fuel oil is used only to generate heat and electricity for civilian uses.
It's very important that we both agree the mechanism is in place so that there will be no future diversions of oil from the shipments.
With the freeze in place, we are also prepared to exchange liaison offices with North Korea once the remaining technical issues pertaining to the issues of liaison offices have been resolved; and we think that process could take a number of months.
We are, of course, prepared to proceed jointly with North Korea to safely store the spent fuel now being kept in a storage pond at the five-megawatt reactor.
As for the light-water reactor project, this is a benefit for North Korea. As long as the freeze remains in place, we are prepared to continue our negotiations with North Korea to find a workable solution; and this is in fact the crux, the core of the discussions that will be held in Kuala Lumpur over the next couple of days.
Our basic principle is that the light-water reactors must be of the Korean type and that the Republic of Korea must play a central role in the overall light-water reactor project.
North-South dialogue is a requirement under the Agreed Framework, and we expect North Korea to carry out its obligation to resume dialogue with the Republic of Korea. By its nature, the Agreed Framework requires close cooperation between the North and South. Although the Framework does not specify a time frame, ultimately if a constructive North-South dialogue does not take place, the Agreed Framework cannot be fully implemented.
Having stated once again in general terms U.S. policy on this issue, let me just take you through some of the details on the oil diversion. As you know, in January of this year -- January 1995 -- the United States delivered 50,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil to North Korea. Shortly thereafter, we became concerned that a small portion of the oil may have been diverted for industrial uses, specifically to a steel and iron factory rather than to the production of electric power. The Agreed Framework states that the oil is to be used to generate heat and electrical power.
While the amounts in question -- the amounts of oil diverted -- were not of great significance, we took these reports very seriously because they concern North Korean compliance with the Agreed Framework. The oil that was delivered to North Korea was a heavy fuel oil which is commonly known as a Bunker C oil. It cannot be used to operate military machinery -- tanks or aircraft -- or equipment. Thus, the oil we delivered could not be put to any use whatsoever by the North Korean military.
During February and March, we had several diplomatic exchanges with the North Koreans in which we made very clear our concerns about this apparent diversion of the oil. At that time we told the North Koreans that it was necessary to establish a mechanism to ensure that we can verify that there are no future diversions.
We have proposed talks with the North Koreans to set up such a mechanism, procedures, so that we can be absolutely confident that when future shipments are made -- if they are made, and we hope they'll be able to be made -- there will be no diversions. While the North Koreans have agreed in principle to these talks on a mechanism to stop the diversions, they have refused to schedule the discussions pending a resolution of the light-water reactor issue. We've made clear to the North Koreans that there will be no additional oil deliveries until a satisfactory monitoring mechanism is in place.
The Agreed Framework calls for 100,000 tons of heavy fuel oil to be delivered to North Korea by October 21, 1995. The North Koreans have told us that accepting all 100,000 tons of oil at one time in October is difficult because they do not have the storage capacity at the Sonbong facility to store the entire amount. They have therefore requested that the oil be delivered in stages.
We have told the North Koreans that we are prepared to consider delivering at least some of the oil before October 21, but only if -- and I want to emphasize the word "only" -- we have established a satisfactory monitoring mechanism.
So that completes my summary of our policy on North Korea.
Q Is that what the confusion over July and October --
MR. BURNS: I believe that's where some of the confusion about July may come from. In fact we always intended to deliver the next shipment in October. There is a request that it be delivered earlier. We have said that we can consider that request but only if a mechanism is in place to prevent diversions.
Q So oil delivery is suspended --
MR. BURNS: It is suspended right now.
Q -- pending the --
MR. BURNS: As the Secretary of State said yesterday, the oil deliveries are suspended until we can work out a mechanism.
Q Then there is linkage, but the North Koreans made the linkage, right?
MR. BURNS: We have not made a linkage with other issues beyond the diversion issue, but apparently, I was told this morning, the North Koreans have made such a link.
Q Nick, when the Secretary said that there would be no more oil deliveries pending progress on the light-water reactor talks, his statement was actually correct. Leaving aside at his insistence, that statement was actually correct.
MR. BURNS: What I'm here to do is simply state what the facts are. The facts are that we have linked future shipments to the question of diversion and a mechanism, and we have known for some time the North Koreans are also linking that question to a resolution of the light- water reactors.
So I think what I've said today in effect clears up whatever misunderstandings may have been in the American press about this yesterday.
Q Yesterday at the Foreign Press Center you made some comments on Taiwan's President's visit to the United States. It sounds rather like a policy change. But my question is, do you know exactly when both sides -- I mean, Taipei and Washington -- started to discuss about those proposals?
MR. BURNS: I have the following to say on this question of Taiwan. We have the greatest respect for President Lee and for the quite considerable accomplishments of Taiwan, both in economic growth and in political stability. We fully understand that there is an interest in a transit on the part of the Taiwan authorities, and the question of a transit is under consideration.
Q Can I follow on that?
MR. BURNS: Certainly.
Q Taiwan press, quoting Senator Robb, says that the White House has decided to let President Lee Teng-hui go to Cornell and an announcement is going to be made very soon, as early as today, as we say. Are you aware of any such new development?
MR. BURNS: I think if you're quoting a Senator who's being quoted by another news agency about the White House, you might want to direct that question to either the Senator's office or to my good friend Mike McCurry at the White House. I can't speak for the White House, but I can speak in this case for what I know the facts to be. The facts are that there is a request that has been given to us, and that request of a transit is under consideration. But I can't take you beyond that story because I don't believe any kind of decision on this matter has been made.
Q You are still talking about -- sorry, can we stay on this -- you are still talking about a transit visa, not any other type of a visit?
MR. BURNS: All I'm saying is that there has been a request for a transit, and that question is under -- that issue is under consideration. But it's certainly not going to be helpful for me -- I know it might be for you, but it won't be helpful for me to try to go into too much more detail on this. (Laughter)
Q Nick, when you say a "transit" now, do you mean he has asked to change planes in New York, or that he has asked for a transit visa so that he can have a couple of days to attend his reunion at Cornell?
MR. BURNS: Since this is currently being discussed, Sid, I think I'm going to leave my comments as they were.
Q No, just what he's asked for.
MR. BURNS: I'm not a party to the discussions, and I think these discussions have gone on for some time. I believe that there have been a number of issues discussed, and so I just at this point don't want to say anything more than I've said today.
Q Well, a transit visa, if I'm not mistaken, is permitted under the policy -- that he can stop and change planes. I mean, that's permitted, so I don't know why there has to be any deliberation on giving him a transit visa since that is allowed under the policy.
Q As I understood it, Sid, you asked a different question, and that was "What is the nature of the specific request? What is it? Where does he want to go," and so forth. I think it's well understood from the press and from remarks made by the Taiwan authorities what the request is. We have a request in, and we are looking at that. It's under consideration. But I do not have any more detail or any more information to give you on this issue today.
Q When was the request made?
MR. BURNS: I think it was some time ago.
Q Some time ago?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q Mr. Burns, just a follow-up on heavy oil, if I may. About the second shipment of 100,000 ton, who will pay the cost? And if it's KEDO, have you agreed already on the occasion of the three countries -- who would pay (inaudible)?
MR. BURNS: The first shipment was a shipment by the United States; it was paid for by the United States. I believe the first shipment took place before KEDO was formally created.
Once we can resolve the problem that we have right now with North Korea and the question of diversion, we'll consider the source and funding of the second shipment. It could very well be undertaken by KEDO.
Q It's not fixed yet?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that it is, but I can certainly check with you on that. But I think that the theory is that KEDO would be involved in this in the future.
Q Mr. Burns, if I may follow on this subject. Do we know at present if North Korea is diverting their oil from civilian use, power- generation? And if they went back to staying strictly within our agreement with them for the use of the oil without negotiating a framework, could there be deliveries continued?
MR. BURNS: We certainly know that there's been a diversion. We brought that diversion to the attention of the North Koreans several months ago. We're now discussing ways to make sure that does not happen in the future.
We are also assured by our own methods of verification and also because we understand what Bunker C oil is that this diversion could not have enhanced the North Korean military in any way or have been used by the North Korean military. We're fairly sure where we think this oil was diverted to. All of these issues need to be cleared up and fully understood by both sides before further shipments can be considered.
Q Does the diversion persist at the present, is what I'm asking?
MR. BURNS: The delivery of the oil took place several months ago. So I believe the diversion has already taken place.
Q A different subject. On Tibet. A couple weeks after the bombing of the subway in Tokyo, the Dalai Lama was on a visit to Japan where he announced that the head of the Aum sect, who has now been arrested, I understand, and probably indicted now for the bombing, Shoko Asahara, had been a student of his in India.
In connection with that, because the Tibetan groups have had a lot of their financing coming from the U.S., has there been a request from the Japanese side concerning the investigation of the Dalai Lama's group here? And, if so, has anything been done on that?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any such request, but it's something we can look into for you.
Q Nick, does the State Department have an estimate of how many Russian technicians are in Iran already?
MR. BURNS: Yes. In our conversations with the Russian Government about their own cooperation with Iran -- I believe there are upwards of around 100 to 150 technicians -- that's a general word -- engineers, technicians, of all sorts in Iran.
I'm glad you mentioned that, Barry, because in addition to being opposed to the possible provision or sale of two nuclear reactors, we're extremely concerned about the fact that Russian scientists, engineers, and technicians will be living and working with the Iranians; and there will be a transfer of technology to the Iranians from this which is quite important in a negative sense and quite dangerous because this transfer of information and technology could possibly give the Iranians the ability to produce nuclear weapons on their own. That is something that everybody wants to avoid. It's been at the crux of our concerns about this deal for sometime.
Q Has the United States -- has the President or, I suppose, the Secretary of State -- especially in Moscow, at the Moscow meetings -- asked the Russians to bring these people home?
MR. BURNS: Yes, we have, because we've asked Russia to end all of its cooperation on nuclear matters. Whether it pertains to nuclear reactors or anything else, we've asked the Russians to end that cooperation with Iran. That would mean, in the best of all possible worlds, a cancellation of the on-going projects and a cancellation of the future sales that are called for under the contract between Iran and Russia.
Q One last quick one. I thought I had seen several times that Germany is Iran's best supplier of all sorts of technology. Is the Administration satisfied now that there is no German technology going to Iran?
MR. BURNS: We are satisfied --
Q Now I don't mean government blessed, because we've been through this before with the Germans who sort of say it's not a government thing, but their big manufacturers deal happily, usually, with anybody that will pay. Is there no German technology trade with Iran right now?
MR. BURNS: That's a very broad question. We are satisfied that none of our G-7 partners are engaged in any type of nuclear cooperation with Iran. All of our G-7 partners have made the decision that it is simply too dangerous to contemplate that or to do it.
One of the points that we have made to the Russian leadership -- it's a point that Secretary Christopher has made to Foreign Minister Kozyrev -- is that, as you look towards the future -- you, Russia -- one of your long-term objectives is integration with the major Western institutions, among them the G-7. President Yeltsin will be going to Halifax to participate in some of the meetings at Halifax. You should know that over the long term, Russia's eventual participation, or full participation in organizations like the G-7 will be judged by the West on a certain basis. There is a consensus now, an operational consensus as well theoretical in the G-7, that G-7 countries do not trade in nuclear materials or nuclear technologies or nuclear information with Iran.
Secretary Christopher said at his meeting in Geneva in March with Kozyrev that this was one of the potential costs of Russian nuclear cooperation with Iran; that in the future, it may not be possible for Russia to achieve full integration with the G-7 and other institutions if they don't share the basic tenets of the G-7 and how the G-7 views threats to peace in the world. We think that Iran is a major threat to peace in the Middle East and to our European friends.
Q Nick, on the question of technology transfers, does this government have any estimate of how much of the existing Iranian technical base of knowledge on nuclear issues came from the United States?
MR. BURNS: There is a very interesting article I read about this a couple of days ago.
Q I heard about it.
MR. BURNS: It was an interesting article. Certainly, during the period before the revolution in Iran when the Shah of Iran was in power, there was a degree of at least civilian cooperation. There were Iranian students who were here in the United States studying all sorts of things and probably undoubtedly some who were engaged in the study of nuclear energy issues.
Since that time, however, it has been the policy of the United States to deny student visas to Iranian who want to come to the United States to study anything related to nuclear energy, nuclear power, nuclear weapons design, biological or chemical weapons or anything remotely resembling that. There is a screening process underway in operation. It has been for quite some time.
As Iranian students apply for visas in third countries all over the Middle East, there is a screening process underway and there is a process of denial for those students who want to study this. Once students come to the United States to study, say, English literature, and if they wish to change their major to physics or nuclear energy sciences, there are procedures are underway, as the government works with universities, to deny applications for students to make this transfer.
This is a very important problem for us. We are doing our very best to make sure that the United States does not contribute to the transfer of this kind of technology in any fashion to Iran.
Q Since that time -- you're talking about 1979?
MR. BURNS: I'm talking about the period since the revolution. I can check and get you the specific year. It is currently the policy that is in place and has been in place for quite some time. Certainly, during the life of this Administration, I should tell you.
Q Isn't the knowledge of how to build a bomb widely known -- widely available? Do the Iranians really need Russian technicians to teach them how to build the bomb, if that's their goal?
MR. BURNS: It may be that there have been textbooks written or there's information on the Internet available for how to assemble a rudimentary device. But it has certainly not been the case in the nuclear age, over the last five decades, that any country can simply do this. A number of countries have tried and have had difficulty.
For the most part, as we understand the problem of proliferation, it has been the transfer of technology from one country to another that has been absolutely essential for some of these third countries to build a nuclear weapons capability. It will certainly make it fundamentally harder for Iran to build a nuclear weapons capability if Russia and China deny them the sale of nuclear reactors and the assistance of Russian and Chinese technicians and scientists.
What we want to do is make it extremely difficult for Iran to accomplish his mission. That's why we've called for a worldwide boycott of nuclear energy technology sales and of the transfer of personnel and of technician contracts with Iran. We want to make it as difficult as possible for Iran to accomplish the purpose which we believe it has undertaken.
Q (Inaudible) about Pakistan's technology relationship with Iran?
MR. BURNS: We have no information, no evidence that Pakistan is engaged in the type of nuclear cooperation with Iran that Russia and China are engaged in.
Q Just to clarify. All the arguments you've made in the last ten minutes here -- is it not correct -- you've made these repeatedly to the Russians and the Chinese, presumably? Unless there is something new that I'm missing, to date, they haven't changed their minds; is that correct?
MR. BURNS: President Clinton has made these arguments to President Yeltsin, Secretary Christopher, to Minister Kozyrev. Secretary Christopher made these arguments to Foreign Minister Chen on April 17 in New York.
So the senior levels of the Russian and Chinese leadership are directly aware of our concerns.
I have no indication today that either Russia or China have changed their minds and have decided to end or terminate these potential sales. But it is a long-term diplomatic objective of ours, in our relationship with both Russia and China, to make sure that is the end result. We're prepared to keep this at the highest point in our agenda with both countries, so that at the end of the day -- whenever the end of the day is -- both countries decide it's in their interests to prevent these contracts from going forward.
I think we had a question on --
Q Fred Cuny.
MR. BURNS: On Fred Cuny.
Q I've got another one for Iran.
MR. BURNS: Why don't we come back. We'll go back to Fred Cuny.
We have seen reports in the Russian press that the Russian Federal Security Service does not believe the body found in Chechnya is that of Fred Cuny.
Unfortunately, we are still unable to confirm that particular judgment, because the final forensic examination has not taken place. The Russian doctor, who has been hired by the Cuny family and the Soros Foundation to undertake a complete forensic examination of the corpse in the town of Shatoy in Chechnya, has been unable to reach Shatoy because of the intensity of the fighting in and around that town. I understand he made an attempt over the last couple of days to do so.
That physician -- the Russian physician -- is currently in Ingushetia. He is seeking safe passage from the Russian military so that he might go to Shatoy to undertake this examination. That is certainly the desire of the Cuny family, the Soros Foundation, and the United States Government.
In the meantime, we continue to be in regular contact with authorities in the security services, the Defense Ministry and the Foreign Ministry, as well as the Kremlin in Moscow, about this case. We have lots of people from our embassy working on it. We have several people in Ingushetia -- in Chechnya -- working on it, including Mr. Remler, the young American diplomat who is with the OSCE mission and probably is now in Grozny.
Mr. Cuny's brother, Chris Cuny, is in Washington today. He met earlier this morning with the National Security Advisor, Tony Lake. He will be meeting with Deputy Secretary Talbott later on this afternoon.
Obviously, in those meetings, Mr. Lake and Mr. Talbott are assuring Mr. Chris Cuny that we will continue to do everything we can to find Fred Cuny and to bring him back to the United States so he can resume his normal life. We hope very much that Fred Cuny is alive.
We are following up a number of leads. There have been a number of leads ever since he disappeared in March, but we're not at the point of really indicating, either in a positive or negative direction, what we think happened to him.
Q You say that's his brother?
MR. BURNS: It's his brother.
Q According to reports, a Greek senior diplomat from New York City dispatched recently to Athens a secret report disclosing, inter alia, that Under Secretary Holbrooke and his associates here at the Department of State are promoting actually the unilateral declaration of independence illegally declared by the Turkish-Cypriot state as a solution to the Cyprus problem for the creation of a configurated Cypriot state, 21 years after the Turkish invasion and occupation.
Could you please, once again, clarify the U.S. position, vis-a-vis to this specific issue?
MR. BURNS: Assistant Secretary Richard Holbrooke has been a prime mover in trying to increase the level of U.S. Government attention to our long-term effort to resolve the difficulties between the Turkish and Greek communities on Cyprus. He is in no way trying to encourage a unilateral declaration of independence by the Turkish republic of northern Cyprus.
We have two special negotiators involved in this. We have a very able Ambassador in Cyprus, whom you know quite well, who works on this problem. And Assistant Secretary Holbrooke has given it a lot of attention since he took office last year. We have respect for both communities. We are dealing on the basis of equality here in our diplomatic contacts with both communities. We're not encouraging any unilateral measures. We're encouraging mutual agreement by the communities to resolve the problems of Cyprus.
Q A question on Cuba. A number of Cubans were picked up over the weekend. I think there were 23 that were picked up last weekend. A number of these are being taken to Guantanamo. Can you explain why they are being taken there?
There's a letter that's been put out by the United States attorney for south Florida, which is somewhat confusing, saying that those that are taken to Guantanamo can either stay there or go back to Cuba. It seems to be a legal problem.
MR. BURNS: There were 23 migrants aboard a powerboat that was intercepted by the Coast Guard last Sunday. Most unfortunately, one of the people -- a 22-year old woman who was aboard the boat -- died during the voyage. There is now an on-going investigation into the alien smuggling related to this incident.
It is true that these 22 migrants and the corpse of the young woman have been taken to Guantanamo, the U.S. Naval Base there. This is to serve the on-going investigation into the death of the young woman and into the alien status of the other 22. These people are not part of the general population of Cuban and Haitian migrants at Guantanamo -- at the Guantanamo safehaven. They are subject to the terms of the May 2 agreement with Cuba that was announced by the Attorney General. So they will not lumped with the roughly 20,000, or now under 20,000, Cubans and Haitians at Guantanamo who may be considered for humanitarian parole into the United States.
They will, rather, be put into the category of all those who, since May 2, attempt, as migrants, to enter the United States illegally. They will be judged according to the procedures that Under Secretary Tarnoff laid out in his Congressional testimony yesterday.
Q Some will be held there to be questioned, I assume, in this case. Will they be held longer in Guantanamo if there is found to be just cause to hold these people?
MR. BURNS: I think, Betsy, that just remains to be seen. They're being held for two reasons. Just to summarize: One is part of the investigation about the death of the young woman. The second is undergo the same type of questioning and to give them the opportunity that we have given to all other migrants since May 2 to state their reasons for wanting to leave Cuba and enter the United States.
Therefore, they will have access to INS personnel. But they are not part of the earlier group of people who set out for the United States last summer and who remain at Guantanamo.
Q Have these people come directly from Cuba or via the Bahamas or some other place?
MR. BURNS: I am not completely sure. I think that's part of the investigation. They're being questioned about their voyage, obviously. I'm not in a position to say that they came directly from Cuba or via another island. But we'll probably be able to get you that answer. I just don't know that for sure.
Q Is this an alien smuggling case involving exiles form south Florida?
MR. BURNS: There is an on-going investigation into question.
Q More follow-up. Has smuggling of Cuban migrants been a significant factor in the past?
MR. BURNS: It certainly has been a concern that we've had. In announcing the policy in early May, the Attorney General made very clear that we are interested in the safe, orderly, and legal departure of migrants. We think those are very important considerations that have to be borne in mind by everyone when we discuss this issue.
We certainly do not want to see a repetition of the events of last summer. We don't want people to have to risk their lives on the high seas. We think it is far better to use the minimum number of 20,000 that we are quite willing to see enter the United States by legal means every year.
Q Apart from last year's exodus, were there people who were involved in smuggling -- you know, the rafters -- facilitating their exodus or were these people who basically somehow got a boat or a raft and set out on their own?
MR. BURNS: I think for the most part, the latter.
Q Nick, under the new policy, is it accurate that if a Cuban reaches U.S. territorial waters, they'll still be taken into the United States? They won't then be taken back to Cuba?
MR. BURNS: These 22 people?
Q Just in general. Under the new policy, has that been left intact -- that if they reach U.S. territorial waters, they'll be taken into the United States?
MR. BURNS: Under the current guidelines, Sid, we have laid out very specific procedures that are going to be followed by the Coast Guard and by the INS. Migrants will have an opportunity to state their case as to why they want to enter the United States, whether their fear persecution should they be returned to Cuba. But the intent is to return people to Cuba.
Q Even those who reach U.S. territorial waters?
MR. BURNS: I believe so, yes. Let me just restate something. I think I misspoke about the body of the deceased young woman -- the 22 year old. The body of the deceased woman is not at Guantanamo. It's at Key West. But the other 22 people who were on board this powerboat are at Guantanamo.
Q Does the Department have any reaction to the proposed Helms- Burton bill on Cuba?
MR. BURNS: Yes, we do. Assistant Secretary of State, Wendy Sherman, has sent a letter to the Congress detailing our reaction to the Helms-Burton legislation on Cuba. Essentially -- I'll just try to summarize it very briefly.
We very strongly support the Cuban Democracy Act, which is the foundation of American policy towards Cuba, as agreed upon by both the Executive Branch and the Congress. The Cuban Democracy Act calls for the continuation of a very strong embargo against Cuba. The Clinton Administration strongly supports the continuation of that embargo.
It also calls for increased people-to-people contacts in order to promote the kind of change that we hope will come about in Cuba, and that is the transfer to a democratic, pluralistic regime.
We in no way, shape, or form want to lessen the pressure on the Castro Government to follow the example of most other former communist countries around the world, and that is to cease totalitarian policies and to reform. We certainly hope that there will be a successor regime that emerges in Cuba that will be democratic, that will stand for political and economic reform.
That's our policy on the Cuban Democracy Act, and we fully support it. We believe there are provisions in Helms-Burton that will strengthen the Cuban Democracy Act, and we're in favor of those provisions.
We have also made known to the Congress -- Under Secretary Tarnoff spoke about this in his testimony yesterday -- that there are other provisions in Helms-Burton which we find troubling, which we believe, frankly, are inconsistent with the Cuban Democracy Act and which, because of their extra-territorial nature, could conflict with other U.S. priorities around the world. Under Secretary Tarnoff went into some detail about those issues yesterday.
Q Can I just ask you about one of them, which is secondary boycotts? Are you opposed to those? And, if so, why? The idea, for example, of penalizing countries that do trade in sugar with Cuba in some way?
MR. BURNS: We are opposed. And we've made this clear to the sponsors of the legislation, both in the letter that we sent and in our conversations, we're opposed to that aspect of the legislation because it conflicts with other very important U.S. interests, pertaining in the case that you mentioned, David, to Canada, but also U.S. treaty obligations -- NAFTA, the WTO, and the other treaties.
So it's a quite complicated matter. We are continuing our discussions with Congress. We hope that at the end of the discussions that we will be able to arrive at a point where we and the Congress agree on legislation to strengthen the Cuban Democracy Act. But, in doing so, we have a number of concerns about the legislation that we've made quite clear to the Congress.
You've been very patient.
Q I want to ask on Lebanon.
MR. BURNS: Why don't we stay on Cuba for a minute, and then we'll go to Lebanon.
Q I'm just asking, can you make Wendy Sherman's letter public?
MR. BURNS: Jim, it's not been our practice to make public our communications with the Congress. We certainly haven't done that in the past, and I don't think we're willing to do so now.
Any others on Cuba? You've been very patient. I'm sorry.
Q On Lebanon. Do you have anything on the timing of the resignation of the Prime Minister of Lebanon, and also did the Secretary discuss with the Syrian Foreign Minister recently the issue of the preparations for the Presidential elections in Lebanon?
MR. BURNS: We understand that Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri has resigned. He is now heading a caretaker government until a new government is formed, and he may be asked, we understand, to form a new government. Should he be included in a new government, we would continue our cooperation with him.
Prime Minister Hariri has compiled an outstanding record in leading Lebanon forward towards national reconciliation and economic reconstruction.
Q Presidential election issue -- did the State Department discuss this issue during the visit of Minister Shara?
MR. BURNS: We had quite lengthy and detailed discussions with Minister Shara on a number of issues. I don't know if that particular issue was covered, however.
MR. BURNS: Just Ecuador? What's the capital? (Laughter)
Q That's a start. Well, that's that issue, right? (Laughter) According to the Ecuadoran Foreign Minister, there's a recently declassified State Department document that calls into question the -- or raises a possible mapping error from the 1942 Rio Protocol which was the area -- which maps the area that Ecuador and Peru are fighting about.
Do you have anything on this, and does it strengthen Ecuador's position in the view of the U.S. Government?
MR. BURNS: The document in question -- as we understand it, the document that was referred to in the Ecuadoran Foreign Minister's remarks -- it's a newly declassified State Department document -- it does not say that the 1942 Rio Protocol cannot be implemented or is no longer relevant. It recognized that delimiting the border in an uncharted area -- and that was the case, I believe, in 1942 as well as in 1947 when this area was delimited -- would require the direct engagement. This process would require the direct engagement of both Peru and Ecuador, and technical support from the Rio guarantor countries, of which, of course, the United States is one.
So this U.S. State Department document is consistent with the longstanding position of the United States, but the guarantors of the Rio Protocol have an obligation to assist Ecuador and Peru, and that we will continue to assist them in accordance with these obligations. We were prepared to assist in 1942. We did so, and we remain prepared to assist both countries now, and we have been doing so over the last couple of months as they have worked through this dispute.
Q If I might revisit Iran, in the context of Algeria, the Algerian Ambassador, newly appointed, Osmane Bencherif, yesterday at a news conference asked formally for the help of the United States and NATO and other allies to help to sever the connection from Iran to the Sudan to his country the flow of arms -- the support, I think, also of men for the terrorism that is going on in Algeria.
He said -- he qualified this by saying that it was proven by the French. They had evidence that this support was coming from Iran, and we had a backgrounder about the 1st of this month, a high official, tell us and confirm indeed that Iran was involved in the subversion of Algeria.
So how do you react, Mr. Burns, and how do you think the Department would react to Algeria's request for help?
MR. BURNS: I have not seen the statement of the Ambassador. Therefore, I don't want to make a formal comment on it. Let me look into your question. Certainly, the United States has a great interest and obligation to assist countries in the fight against terrorism and the fight against the illicit spread of terrorist actions and other actions to support it. So we will probably, I'm sure, be looking into this.
But let me just say we have been quite disturbed to see a continuation of the terrorism that has afflicted Algeria. We denounce the actions of those who are responsible for the deaths of innocent people throughout Algerian society. We have great respect for the Algerian Government. We have a continuous dialogue with them, and we have a continuous dialogue with the opposition elements in Algeria who are not linked to terrorism. The United States will continue its discussions with both opposition elements that are constructive in Algeria and with the Algerian Government to see if we can be helpful in any way in trying to help resolve the problems of Algeria.
Q The question is what does the actions taken against Iran -- what implications does it have for the NPT, because, as the Iranians have been saying, they are signers of the NPT. As far as I know, they haven't violated the NPT in any way. There are inspections ongoing in accordance with that.
Does some other legislative accord need to be brought into place in order to decrease nuclear proliferation since the NPT, obviously, has not done the job? And, secondly, what are the requirements -- what must Iran do to get this boycott away from them? You haven't said -- you know, you said it has to be done. We want to get the other countries involved, but you haven't said under what conditions would it be removed.
MR. BURNS: The problem here is that, despite the fact that Iran states publicly that it is not intending to achieve a nuclear weapons capability, we simply don't trust them. We don't believe their public statements. We have too much evidence acquired from all sources available to us that Iran is doing just that -- is trying to build a nuclear weapons capability.
What Iran can do to cease the pressure from the United States is to stop scouring central Asia for highly enriched uranium; stop trying to purchase equipment that can only be used under any logical pretense for the building of a nuclear weapons system. It can stop its attempt to achieve a high level of nuclear cooperation with Russia and China.
Iran has to do a lot to satisfy the United States that it is not intending to achieve a nuclear capacity in the future. I think it's quite clear to the Iranian leadership what has to be done to stop the efforts of the United States, and it's quite clear that their efforts are continuing.
Q Could we go to Bosnia for a quick question. Anything new on the talks with Milosevic? There are some people who think that Mr. Holbrooke is there or headed that way.
MR. BURNS: I can assure you that Assistant Secretary Holbrooke is in Washington at the Department of State this morning. There have been sightings. I can also assure you that Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Ambassador Bob Frasure, is in Belgrade. He has been in Belgrade since, I believe, Monday morning. He has had a series of intensive, serious talks with the Serbian President, Mr. Milosevic.
Those talks are being held on behalf of the Contact Group which decided a week ago today that we should try again to see if we can convince Mr. Milosevic to accept the Contact Group offer of limited sanctions relief if Serbia recognizes Bosnia. That is the issue at play here.
If we felt that there was no chance of that happening, Ambassador Frasure wouldn't have spent five days in Belgrade. I have nothing to announce, though. I am not in a position even to describe the talks in any detail, because we're not in the business of doing that, and I wouldn't even lead you in the direction that we're making progress or we're not making progress. We're simply going to have to wait for them both to come down from the mountain and to see what emerges.
But it's a very serious effort by the United States on behalf of the Contact Group to make an attempt to achieve something quite substantial, because if this agreement is reached, Serbia would in fact be saying that Bosnia exists, that Bosnia should exist and will continue to exist. Therefore a very important leader in the Serbian community in the Balkans would have said that the dream of a greater Serbia must be quite limited and can't be as expansive as some of them would like to have it.
So these are important discussions, and they're ongoing. In Bosnia, in general, the fighting continues in Sarajevo. The United Nations continues its review of the mission of UNPROFOR, and the position of the United States remains quite clear. UNPROFOR's role must be strengthened. The ability of UNPROFOR and NATO to enforce the U.N. resolutions must be strengthened, and must be much more aggressive.
There have to be efforts to try to reimpose or rebuild a cease-fire in the area. Secretary Hurd was here two days ago for discussions with Secretary Christopher, and they had a long discussion of this. When Secretary Christopher goes to the NATO meetings at the end of the month, he'll look forward to discussions with the new French Foreign Minister, Mr. de Charette.
Q I understand you can't talk about the consultations in Belgrade, but how about the offer itself -- the Contact Group's offer. There's at least one publication that seems to think that has changed from recognizing Bosnia and its government to now just recognizing the territorial outline of Bosnia, but is that accurate?
MR. BURNS: It's a good question. Because Ambassador Frasure is currently engaged in the discussions, I just don't want to go into the detail of what the offer is or what the discussion around that offer has been. But as soon as he comes back, we'll be in a position to address that in more specific terms.
Q Can you say anything about to what extent sanctions would be lifted in exchange for Serbian recognition?
MR. BURNS: The Contact Group offer is for partial sanctions relief. What that means is suspension of certain types of sanctions. It is not an offer to lift sanctions, and Ambassador Frasure has been very clear about that.
Q What partial? What parts? How much?
MR. BURNS: Again, David, I think I'm going to just refrain from detailed comment until Ambassador Frasure returns.
Q There's give-and-take, then, in this. It's not -- you're indicating there's some negotiating --
MR. BURNS: I'm just saying that the Contact Group developed an offer which it confirmed at Frankfurt at the meeting a week ago today, and that offer has been made. But what I don't want to do is go into the details of the offer or through the conversation this week until Ambassador Frasure returns, because I have not been in a position to talk to him.
Q You're saying there has been a new offer developed. There was a new offer developed a week ago. This is not the old offer, which you indicated just a minute ago.
MR. BURNS: I'm saying there's an offer on the table, and I described the basic offer. I want to leave it at that.
Q Which was developed a week ago.
MR. BURNS: Which was confirmed a week ago. The offer in most respects resembles quite closely the offer that's been on the table for quite some time with Serbia.
Q And that offer included -- stipulates not only the boundaries of Bosnia, that is recognizing the existence of Bosnia, but he has to accept the map, too, right?
MR. BURNS: Mr. Milosevic has already accepted the Contact Group map and plan. I believe he did so in July 1994. That's not at issue here. What's at issue is whether or not Serbia will choose to recognize Bosnia, and that is an issue that we have been pressing for a long, long time, but quite intensively over the last couple of months.
Q Have you talked to the Croatians, Slovenia and the other republics? I mean, that was part of the whole package before. Is it now just Bosnia?
MR. BURNS: The offer is not -- well, the offer is focused on Bosnia, but we'll just have to wait until Ambassador Frasure gets back before I'm in a position or he's in a position to give you a complete rendition of what happened, and I hope that he'll be able to come back and say that he's made progress. But I just don't know at this time.
Q Can you tell us what the representative of the United States has taken to Belgrade or what -- the offer that he's taken? I mean --
MR. BURNS: Sid, I don't find it surprising that I'm unwilling to share the details of our negotiating posture with the Serbian Government. I don't find that surprising at all. Sometimes in the course of diplomatic negotiations we're ready to share with you lots of details and sometimes we're not, and this is the latter case.
These are very delicate, complex negotiations. We think that success has a better chance if we do not talk about the specifics in public, but rather reserve them to the private conversation. Since Ambassador Frasure has been in Belgrade all week and has not had a chance to report personally to the Secretary on this and we've not had a chance to talk by phone, I think it would irresponsible for me to get into the detail. I'm not the negotiator.
Q When is he coming home, do you know?
MR. BURNS: I don't know the specifics of his travel plans. I think it's day-to-day right now.
Q Do you have anything new on Angola, and is Mr. Mugabe's presence here today related to any message that the U.S. wants to convey to that area now?
MR. BURNS: The beginning of your question referred to?
MR. BURNS: Angola. I don't have anything specific on Angola. Mr. Mugabe is here today. He is having lunch right now with Secretary Christopher. He saw the President and Deputy Secretary Talbott yesterday, and they've had good discussions, but nothing per se on Angola.
Q Nick, last week House International Committee -- they were using to some amendment -- an humanitarian act resolution to foreign aid bill, and they accepted. Now I believe is the next week the bill will be in the House floor. Do you have any reaction about that?
MR. BURNS: Could you be a little bit more specific? What --
Q Humanitarian aid corridor which they add to foreign aid bill.
MR. BURNS: The Humanitarian aid corridor for which part of the world?
Q All of the world.
MR. BURNS: I don't have any specific comments, no. I mean, if you're interested, we can certainly follow up with you.
Q Yes, please.
MR. BURNS: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:56 p.m.)
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