U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/05/23 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Tuesday, May 23, 1995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Conflict in Region: --Ambassador Frasure Discussions in Belgrade ...........1-2,4-6 --Secretary Christopher Discussions/Contacts ...........1-4 --Strengthening of UNPROFOR ............................2 --Mr. Zotov's Discussions in Belgrade ..................2-4 --Report of Possible Krijina and Bosnian-Serb Federation .........................................6 --Contact Group Plan---Report of Karadzic Reconsideration ....................................6-7 --Involvement of Former President Carter ...............7 --Russia's Representation at Frankfurt Meeting .........2-3,5,7 TAIWAN/CHINA Issuance of U.S. Visa to President Lee .................7-9,15-19 --Chinese Reaction to Decision .........................8,14-15,19-20 --U.S.-China Diplomatic Discussions ....................8,14 U.S. Decision on MFN Status ............................8 NORTH KOREA Framework Agreement: --Technical Level Meeting in Kuala Lumpur ..............10-11 --LW Reactor/Oil Diversion Issues ......................11-12 CUBA Arrests/Release of Human Rights Activists ..............12-13 Treatment of Migrants Returned to Cuba .................13 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Israeli Decision to Suspend Confiscation of Land .......13-14 DEPARTMENT Gilman/Helms Legislation ...............................20-22 RUSSIA Chechnya: --Search for Fred Cuny .................................22-23 --Discussions: Russian Security/Military & Chechens ....23
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, MAY 23, 1995, 1:28 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome to the State Department briefing. Delighted to see all of you here. I'll be glad to go right to your questions.
Q What are you going to do now that Milosevic has said no again, this time to suspending the sanctions? What can Mr. Frasure hope to do on his next venture out there if he goes out there again?
MR. BURNS: Barry, we're going to keep working at this. Ambassador Bob Frasure was in Belgrade a long time. He spent eight days there. He had intensive discussions with the Serbian President -- over 30 hours of discussions, I understand -- and I think you know that he was there on behalf of the Contact Group to discuss the possibility and our hope that Mr. Milosevic might accept the offer of limited sanctions relief or suspension of sanctions, not lift, in return for a mutual recognition among the Republics of the former Yugoslavia, and specifically recognition by Serbia of Bosnia.
I think it's fair to say that during these intensive discussions many issues were moved forward, but the talks floundered on a central point. They floundered on one point, and that is that Serbia is insisting on a lifting of the sanctions, and the United States and the Contact Group position was and is that there can be a suspension of sanctions but not a lift.
That offer is still on the table. There certainly cannot be a lifting of sanctions until the Pale Serbs accept the Contact Group map and plan as the basis for discussions. Secretary Christopher has had a number of discussions internally here in the Department this morning. He has met with his advisers, with Assistant Secretary Holbrooke and others. He has been on the phone with the British Foreign Secretary, Mr. Hurd, and Secretary Christopher intends to be in direct contact with all of his counterparts in the Contact Group within the next 24 hours.
We believe that this is a sensible way to proceed. What we are trying to do here is to avoid a larger war in Bosnia, in the region this summer. It's incumbent upon everybody in the Contact Group to work together on this proposal to try to see if we can establish a basis for negotiations, to try to see if it's possible to convince the parties to accept a cease-fire, and we remain very interested in the efforts of the United Nations in New York, and we're awaiting the report by the U.N. Secretary General to see if we can strengthen UNPROFOR. It's very important, we think, that UNPROFOR remain in existence, remain part of this.
UNPROFOR provides a badly needed humanitarian service. It feeds up to 1.5 million people, and we think that it's important -- and we have long said this -- that the role of UNPROFOR be strengthened so that the U.N. resolutions are met and they are aggressively enforced. That's the U.S. position.
Q Nick, the reports from Belgrade quote Serbian sources as saying that the position of Mr. Milosevic on lifting rather than suspension of the sanctions had the support of the Russians. Is that the case?
MR. BURNS: I certainly don't want to put myself into the position of speaking for the Russian Government. I have seen reports that Mr. Zotov, who is sometimes a participant in Contact Group discussions, is in Belgrade today. We have been in contact this morning with senior officials of the Russian Government to transmit our view and the Contact Group view that the offer that was put on the table by Ambassador Frasure should remain on the table and should remain the position of the Contact Group.
Q You said earlier that this view -- that the word should be "suspension" rather than "lifting" -- was the U.S. view and the Contact Group view. Does that include the Russians?
MR. BURNS: Let me just remind you that Ambassador Frasure went to Belgrade following a Contact Group meeting in Frankfurt at which Assistant Secretary Dick Holbrooke represented the United States. As a result of that Contact Group meeting, Ambassador Frasure went with the position that he negotiated and he discussed with Milosevic over the past eight days.
I understand that Mr. Zotov was invited to that meeting and chose not to attend that meeting, and I understand that there have been a number of discussions with the Russians since. We sometimes have tactical differences with the Russian Government. I think we have a strategic congruence of views with the Russian Government that all of us have to work together to try to find a way out of the Bosnian morass, and that remains the view of the Secretary and of others in this government, that we've got to do that.
So when we understood that Mr. Zotov was in Belgrade, we contacted the Russian Government at a very senior level; and we've communicated our view to let the Russians know that the only offer that the Contact Group can accept in discussions with the Serbian President is the offer that Ambassador Frasure put on the table.
Q Is there a tactical difference with the Russians at the moment?
MR. BURNS: I really can't speak to that, Roy. I can't speak for the Russian Government. We don't know the details of what Mr. Zotov's discussions entailed this morning in Belgrade. But I can say with some confidence that the offer put on the table has the support of the other members of the Contact Group, and we're confident and hopeful that after discussions with the Russians we'll see eye-to-eye on this and that we'll proceed along the path that I described at the beginning of the briefing.
Q At the moment, though, you do not have the support of the Russians, then, it sounds like.
MR. BURNS: No, I'm not willing to say that. I'm just saying that we sometimes have tactical differences. Since we have not been in contact with Mr. Zotov this morning, I really want to steer clear of that. We obviously are going to be very interested in hearing his report on whatever discussions he's having today in Belgrade, and we certainly want him to understand what it is that Bob Frasure brings back from eight days in Belgrade. And, as I said, Secretary Christopher intends to be in touch with Foreign Minister Kozyrev as well as his other ministerial colleagues in the Contact Group.
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q Has he been in touch with Mr. Kozyrev already?
MR. BURNS: Not this morning. The Secretary made a phone call to the British Foreign Secretary because there had been some communication between them over the last 24 hours on this subject. Now he intends to be in contact with Kozyrev and the others shortly -- either this afternoon, this evening, or tomorrow morning, depending on how fast those communications can be made.
Q To clarify on Zotov, if he went in and you didn't know he was going in, or the U.S. Government didn't know that he was going in --
MR. BURNS: I can't say that the U.S. Government didn't know he was going in. We're just not a party to his discussions in Belgrade, and we haven't had a chance, as far as I know, to talk to him. So we're obviously seeking a report on his conversations and would like to be in communication with him. At the same time, the Secretary will be communicating with Mr. Zotov's boss.
Q I have a follow-up to ask, if at either some other level, indirectly, the United States has communicated what Mr. Frasure has received in Zagreb to the Russians? In other words, is Zotov briefed on what's been done so far, can you tell us?
MR. BURNS: I think it's fair to say that all the members of the Contact Group are fully aware of the basis for Bob Frasure's discussions in Belgrade, and were made aware as best as we could because these were very intensive discussions held on a daily basis, of the progress that he felt he was making or the nature of his discussions as they end up.
So just to clarify one thing, Bob Frasure is on his way back from Belgrade. He will be reporting to the Secretary directly when he comes back, and the Secretary is looking forward to that conversation.
Q You said that some progress had been made in some areas. Can you be more specific?
MR. BURNS: I'd rather not. Since the Secretary hasn't had a chance to talk to Bob Frasure, we have not had a full report for him on all of the discussions beyond his reporting cables. I think it's best for me not to get into the details of the substance at this point.
Q Just to clarify. When you said Frasure had the support of the other members of the Contact Group, did that include Russia?
MR. BURNS: As I said, the Russian -- Mr. Zotov was invited to the Frankfurt meeting of the Contact Group and was not able to attend. But subsequently the Russian Government was full aware of the basis for Ambassador Frasure's -- Bob Frasure's discussion.
Q That doesn't mean support, does it?
MR. BURNS: I simply don't want to characterize for the Russian Government their position. You'll have to ask the Russian Government.
Q Nick, is the offer that's on the table for suspension of all sanctions or some of them? If so, which ones?
MR. BURNS: It is for suspension of some sanctions, yes.
Q And you don't want to say how many or what?
MR. BURNS: David, I really don't because again this does get us into the crux of the details of the substantive discussions that took place. I think it would be irresponsible for me to do that in advance of Bob Frasure's arrival back here in Washington.
Q You say the talks foundered on this one key issue. That being the case, I'm puzzled about what there is left to talk about with the Serbs. If they're not going to accept the condition that you have set -- or the conditions that you have set, how are you going to get them to move off that position?
MR. BURNS: As you know very well because you're a long observer of diplomacy, in diplomacy sometimes you have to try and try again. We are convinced that the United States and the Contact Group can't just sit idly by and watch as the situation in Bosnia deteriorates as it is happening, and we simply can't sit by and allow a wider war to break out this summer. So we are trying diplomatically as best as we can to try to work with the parties on a basis for the beginning of a settlement to all the complex problems that plague that region. It's our firm belief that if we felt there was no possibility of this plan succeeding, Bob Frasure wouldn't have spent eight days in Belgrade. If we thought that there was now no possibility of this ever succeeding, we'd say it today.
He has had a series of talks which were in part successful in moving the ball forward in a number of instances. They did not achieve the complete success that we had hoped for, and so therefore the Secretary wants to hear from Bob Frasure directly on his views of the discussion. He will be talking with Assistant Secretary Holbrooke and others about the way forward. He has decided that he wants to be in contact with all of his colleagues in the Contact Group and has already been in contact with one of them -- Minister Hurd -- and we see no reason to stop our efforts now to try to make some progress in Bosnia.
We're going to keep at this. We're going to work hard at it, and we're going to keep our nose to the grindstone and hope that we might make progress.
Q Also on Yugoslavia, have you seen the report that the Krajina and Bosnian Serbs are talking about forming a federation or confederation or some sort of union?
MR. BURNS: I've seen the press reports, yes. I have not seen anything other than the press reports on this. I don't really have a reaction to it beyond our policy, which is we hope that the Bosnian Serbs understand that they must accept as a basis for discussions the Contact Group map and plan.
Q If you already mentioned this, I'll just get it from the transcript. The Contact Group offer was to suspend all sanctions?
MR. BURNS: I did go into this, but I'll be glad to summarize again. It was certain sanctions, but I'm not at liberty to go into the details of which sanctions were included and which were not.
Q Did you see the press report that Karadzic is now reconsidering his rejection of the Contact Group plan? Have you had any indications --
MR. BURNS: I've seen that report. In fact, that was one of the reasons why I got out here a little bit later than I had hoped to today because I wanted to look at it and discuss it with a few people.
Based on the quote in the press report, it does not appear to us that there is a profound change in the position of the Bosnian Serbs. This appears to be the position that Mr. Karadzic was advocating last December. He needs to, in our view, accept the Contact Group map and plan as the starting point in negotiations.
It's simply not enough at this point, after all the diplomatic maneuvering of the last couple of years, to have him consider the Contact Group map and plan. The words are important here. He needs to accept it as the basis for discussions. If he's willing to accept it and if his words mean something and if he's willing to put actions behind the words, then there's a basis for discussion. If he just says he's going to consider it, well he said that last December. So I think the proof is going to be in the pudding here. We'll see what happens.
Q Do you have any indication through other channels, such as the Jimmy Carter Center, that Karadzic may have altered his views? The Carter Center has been in touch with Karadzic independently. Have you any indications through them that he's revising his views?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any indications, from official sources or unofficial sources like the Carter Center, that he is considering a profound change in his views. We certainly hope he will, and we hope he does so because it is absolutely pivotal to everyone's efforts to move this process forward in any kind of substantial way.
Q Have you heard directly or indirectly that former President Carter may be considering another effort?
MR. BURNS: I have not heard that; no. There was some talk several months ago about that, as you remember; but I have not heard anything in the last couple of days about that.
Q Were the Russians represented at any level in Frankfurt?
MR. BURNS: I know that they were invited. They were aware of the meeting. I don't believe that Mr. Zotov showed up, participated. I don't believe they were, but that's a specific enough question that I should try to get you an answer after the briefing; but I don't believe it's the case.
MR. BURNS: Can we leave Bosnia? Go to China. Okay.
Q What's you response to the latest protest from the PRC side? How serious do you think their reaction is to President Lee Teng-hui's visit?
MR. BURNS: I don't think I'd like to begin negotiating this or debating this in public. We made an announcement yesterday about our intention to issue a visa to President Lee. That decision was fully explained to the government in Beijing Saturday, two days before the announcement. There have been a number of conversations here in Washington between senior officials in the Department and the Chinese Ambassador here.
Our Ambassador to China, Stape Roy, has also had a number of high- level conversations over the last 24 hours.
As I understand it here, the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a public statement. It was strongly worded. They reiterated their opposition to the decision of the United States. And, as I said, there have been a number of conversations about this.
We think this decision, as I said yesterday, is fully consistent with the unofficial nature of our relations with Taiwan and fully consistent with the three communiques that provide the foundation for our relations with China itself.
Q Do you have anything new on the status of the visa which the State Department is going to issue to President Lee?
MR. BURNS: I've got a little bit more information but not a lot. I can tell you that President Lee will receive a standard visitor's visa.
It remains to be seen what his exact itinerary will be in the United States. That needs to be worked out and needs to be discussed, including the length of his stay. As soon as those details are available, I will be very glad to give them to you.
Q The question of MFN for China is looming within the coming weeks. Has the Administration made a decision on that? Or is it just a slam-dunk, now; it's just automatic?
MR. BURNS: You're right that it is due to be decided, I believe, by the first week in June. I don't believe there has been a formal decision made, but that's certainly a decision that has to be made. That decision will be put to both the Secretary and the President.
Q President Lee said that he wanted to go Cornell. But let's say he's invited to Washington by members of Congress. Is there a prior decision that he cannot come here?
MR. BURNS: As we understand it, the desire of the Taiwanese authorities was for a visit to Cornell. It is a private visit. It is not an official visit. It cannot be an official visit because we don't have official relations with Taiwan; we have unofficial relations.
Therefore, as we discuss the itinerary with the Taiwanese authorities, I think both of us will want to carry out the agreement that we have, that this will, indeed, be a fully private visit, in all senses of the word.
Q Does a standard visitor's visa have any time limit on it on the length of stay or access to any parts of the United States?
MR. BURNS: Normally, visitors visas do have a length of stay. In this case, we simply will want to be assured, based on the discussions we have already had, that his activities here, his stay here, is fully consistent with the basis for his visa, which is that it will be a private visit. That's really the essence of what is at issue here.
I don't think it's a major issue. It's something that certainly needs to be looked at over the next couple of days -- the details of the itinerary -- and that will happen.
Q Former President George Bush showed his interest to meet with President Lee at Cornell. Do you have any response to that?
MR. BURNS: No, I wasn't aware of that. It's the first I've heard of that. So therefore I don't have any reaction to it.
Usually, we can only react to something when we've thought about it for a while, on the second or third go-around. We don't like to be surprised, so I really don't have a reaction to it.
Q So you won't be surprised if they're going to meet there for a private meeting?
MR. BURNS: As I said yesterday, we have great respect for President Lee. He is a distinguished alumnus of Cornell University. He's been invited. They want to honor him. It's appropriate for him to be so honored.
We are not going to involve ourselves -- we, in the U.S. Government -- in his private activities at Cornell. He is free to meet there in a private capacity with whomever he would like to meet. There will not be any official connotation to this, however, and therefore it will not be possible to have any meetings with U.S. Government officials because we don't have official relations.
Q Have you thought about what's going on in the North Korea talks? Do you have anything to say?
MR. BURNS: Yes. On that one, we've had time to think about the North Korea talks. We've had several hours to talk about the North Korea talks.
I can tell you that there was a technical-level meeting this afternoon in Kuala Lumpur for two and one-half hours in the late afternoon. The start of this meeting was delayed by several hours from its original starting time by agreement of both sides so that the delegations would have more time to review yesterday's talks -- the substance of yesterday's talks.
I can tell you that the talks continue to be frank and businesslike, and that the delegation heads -- Mr. Tom Hubbard from our side -- will resume their meetings tomorrow, May 24.
As I said yesterday -- I think as we have said for the past couple of months -- we are not willing to discuss the details of these negotiations as they are on-going.
Q Do you feel that progress is being made?
MR. BURNS: You know, at this point we're far away. We're receiving some reports. We're being told that discussions are frank and businesslike. They're working through the issues.
The technical-level people were able to have a good exchange today, and I know that Deputy Assistant Secretary Hubbard is looking forward to his meeting tomorrow. So I really don't want to put a mark on this either way. I think we're just going to have to wait and see what the end result of these talks are.
Again, let me just remind you that our intention in these talks is to resolve forever the issue of a light-water reactor which is the crux of the disagreement between the United States and North Korea now. Mr. Hubbard went to Kuala Lumpur to resolve that issue.
These talks do not constitute any kind of holding pattern awaiting other talks. If we can resolve it at these talks, we will.
What remains critically important for us is that the freeze on North Korea's nuclear program remain in place. We do have continuous IAEA monitoring to assure us on a daily basis that is happening. As far as I know today, I have no reason to believe anything other than that the freeze is being maintained.
Q Can you tell us if any other subjects besides the light-water reactors are being discussed at Kuala Lumpur, such as oil?
MR. BURNS: Yes. I've seen some of the initial reporting. I think the discussions have focused almost solely on the light-water reactor issue. That was Mr. Hubbard's intention in going there.
I can't discount the possibility that on the margins of these meetings other issues might be discussed.
You asked about the oil diversion issue. It's our view -- and Secretary Christopher and others spoke to this last week -- that that issue must be resolved to our satisfaction before we can go forward with the next scheduled shipment of oil.
So at some point, whether it's in Kuala Lumpur or some place else, we're going to have to have those discussions, and we're looking forward to them.
Q But you would be prepared to discuss it in Kuala Lumpur if that were appropriate?
MR. BURNS: We're certainly prepared to discuss that, yes.
Q On that issue, Nick, have we thought about what it might precipitate to withhold the oil from the North Koreans? How are they going to generate the power that they need if we go on down the road and do not have successful discussions on diversion, etc? Wouldn't that be forcing them to go back and open up their reactor?
MR. BURNS: I don't make that conclusion. I would say it's their problem. We have an agreement in place. The agreement is that the oil will be used for very specific purposes. We're not going to proceed with any oil shipments until we can be assured that the oil will be used only for the purposes for which it was intended. We think that problem can be worked out. A mechanism has to be put in place to do so.
So I wouldn't say that the onus of this -- the responsibility -- lies here with the United States. It clearly lies with North Korea.
Q Six human rights activists have been released from Cuban jails today, according to the wires. Many times when people are released, they are flown out of the country. Do you know if any of these people are coming here? And do you have any reaction to their release?
MR. BURNS: Betsy, I just saw the press report in the last 30 minutes, just before I came out here. If it is true that these six people are being -- these human rights activists -- are being released from detention or prison. That is good news. That's a step in the right direction.
I would remind you, however, that between May 13 and May 16, the Cuban state security agents detained 15 members of the Human Rights Party of Cuba in three provinces. Eleven of the 15 were released the same day with charges of enemy propaganda or illegal association. One was held for four days without charges. The remaining three, at least to the point that I came out here, remain in detention for the enemy propaganda charges.
I don't know whether these six are part of this group; whether now we can subtract six from the 15.
At the time of the arrests, state security agents searched the activists' homes. They seized reports of human rights violations and, in one case, a typewriter. The leader of the organization was subsequently picked up and threatened with eight years imprisonment if any of the group's reports -- the human rights reports -- turned out to be false.
Over the week of May 19-20 -- the weekend just past -- three members of the human rights group -- another human rights group -- were detained by state security in Pinar del Rio province. The leader of the group, who was recently released from prison, however, was not arrested.
I would just say that given this pattern of activity, and notwithstanding the fact that there may be some good news today, I would say we're very concerned by this apparent crackdown on human rights activists which comes a little more than a week after the departure from Cuba of a four-person international human rights delegation, headed by the French organization, France Liberte.
The Cuban Government has been attempting to project an image of greater openness and willingness to cooperate with the international community on human rights. Based on these arrests, however, it would appear that the Cuban regime remains determined to arrest and prosecute on state security grounds members of independent human rights organizations.
I'm going to stick with these words until we can be assured that the people who have been detained and arrested are released.
It is good news that there is a report that six have been released. But as I've told you, there are more than six people involved and persecuted over the last two weeks because of their human rights activities.
I would also just say that in the joint statement that we issued with the Cuban Government on May 2, the Cuban Government committed to the United States that it would take no reprisals against migrants returned to Cuba under the terms of the statement.
Our experience since September is that there has been no Cuban Government interference with the tens of thousands of Cubans who have applied for admission into the United States from within Cuba. We expect the Cuban Government to live up to these commitments, and we will take measures to monitor the compliance of the Cuban Government with them.
We have consistently deplored the Cuban Government's poor performance on human rights, and we have led efforts in international fora, such as the U.N. Human Rights Commission, to condemn the Castro regime's human rights abuses and to call for full observance of human rights in Cuba. We'll continue these efforts.
Q Israel? You've had 24 hours to think about that one. Do you have a reaction to the Israeli decision to suspend confiscation?
MR. BURNS: Sometimes when we think about issues, it occurs to us that what we originally said is actually the best thing to say. So I just remind you that we said at the beginning of this issue, when the original announcement was made, we said this was not helpful and that it posed difficulties.
Having seen with some satisfaction the news from Israel yesterday that there would be a freeze on this action, we certainly think that was helpful. So I would just like to stand by the statement that we made yesterday.
Q Back to China for a moment. On Ambassador Roy and his -- you say he's been talking extensively with the Chinese Foreign Minister for the last 24 hours. Nick, can you give us anymore detail of the content of those conversations? Can you tell us if the Chinese -- second point -- if the Chinese have threatened any kind of retaliation, a tit-for-tat on this?
Thirdly, what do you expect will be the impact on the Sino-U.S. relations from this?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any retaliation on the part of China as a result of this action. We've seen a strongly-worded statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, however.
Ambassador Roy has had a couple of conversations since we made the announcement here 24 hours ago about President Lee's visa. I'm going to stick to our long-standing practice of not going into the detail of our diplomatic discussions with other governments.
Q Can I just follow up on that? The Chinese Foreign Minister and other senior Chinese officials have not said anything directly to the United States through Ambassador Roy or any other source of consequences -- potential consequences?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe that we have received any word of any concrete actions that the Chinese Government plans to take in reaction to this decision. I do know that there was a delegation -- I believe a military delegation -- visiting here that has decided to go back to China.
But beyond that, that's the only example that I can think of, from the briefing that I had this morning, that would constitute some kind of response. We're carrying on our conversations with the Government of China to convince it that the action that we took and announced yesterday is fully consistent with our relationship with China as well as our unofficial relations with Taiwan.
Q Tell me, though. This military delegation was scheduled to be here for how long?
MR. BURNS: I think I'll refer you to Ken Bacon over at the Pentagon on that. I don't have the details. It was not a delegation with which the State Department was interacting. I think, centrally, it was DoD.
Q At least in the sort of first wave after this decision on Taiwan, have you gotten any indication that, indeed, relations -- difficult relations -- between the United States and China are more tension-ridden? Do you sense that they're going through another period of difficulty.
MR. BURNS: It's, without any doubt, one of the most important relationship that we have anywhere in the world, considering China's size, its power, its role in the world.
It has long been an objective of this Administration to try to have a good relationship with China. It is also a difficult relationship. There are issues that stand in a way of this becoming a closer relationship; certainly, human rights and our concern for dissidents in China is one of those issues. We hope very much that we'll be able to continue working with the Government of China on these issues so that at some point in the future we can arrive at the point where our relations are better.
But we're not going to walk away from the relationship despite the problems, despite a disagreement that we have on the decision that we announced yesterday. We have to continue working at it to serve our own national interests.
Q (Inaudible) that this is fully consistent with the nature of the relationship when Secretary Christopher himself earlier this year said it was not consistent?
MR. BURNS: We convinced them by telling them that the essence of our relations with Taiwan is that we have unofficial relations; that the United States Government does not involve itself in official contacts and dealings with Taiwanese authorities.
We have been convinced, after looking very closely into the visa request, that President Lee's visit here will, in fact, be private and will certainly be unofficial.
We also listened, frankly, Roy, very carefully to the Congress which spoke in a very clear fashion about what it thought should be done. That was a factor in the Administration's thinking. And as this issue was reviewed in the Administration, in several rounds of discussion over the last couple of months, the decision was made that this visit should go forward because it was certainly in compliance with the unofficial nature of our relations with Taiwan.
We didn't think, and we still do not think, that it poses any threat to the official relations, the important relations that we have with the Government of China.
Q How can you insist, though, that it's unofficial when the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee apparently intends to meet with them?
MR. BURNS: We can only guide ourselves, Carol, by the actions of the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government. Bilateral relations between the United States and any country are really a basis of Executive Branch actions, in terms of the daily diplomacy.
We are not in a position to tell any member of Congress that he or she should or should not meet with President Lee. That is a decision that members of Congress will have to make on their own, and we really take no position on that.
We do have a responsibility, given our understanding of our relations with China and the basis of those relations -- which is the three communiques -- we do have a commitment to make sure that our activities pertaining to Taiwanese authorities are consistent with the relationship with China -- meaning, no official contacts; meaning, when President Lee comes here, there will be no official contacts, or no contacts with any U.S. Government Executive Branch officials.
It's a distinction, but I think it's a very important distinction.
Q Just to follow up on that. If President Lee comes here and if he meets with any Congressman -- not to mention the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, but any Congressman -- while you've defined it in such a way it would have to be an unofficial meeting because we don't have official relations, would that nevertheless be a disappointment to you, to the Executive Branch, on the basis on which you issued the visa?
MR. BURNS: Charlie, I would say we can only be responsible for our own actions in the Executive Branch. We made a decision, we think it's the right decision, and we're going to go forward with it. I can assure you that as we implement that decision, we will keep to the letter of the agreement that we have with the Government of China. We will also keep to the letter of the discussions that we have had with Taiwanese authorities. I can just tell you that.
We simply can't put ourselves in a position of commenting on the private nature of President Lee's activities. So we're not going to comment and give a point of view on what he should or should not be doing at Cornell, and we're not going to comment or give advice to members of Congress on whether or not they should meet with him. As long as we can be assured that we have done everything possible to make this a private visit, then I think we'll rest assured that we've lived up to our commitments.
Q I don't want to beat a dead horse, but the rub here is that you've had discussions with President Lee or his people and people in Taiwan over the nature of the visit as you expect it. And my question was, would you, the Executive Branch, be disappointed if in fact he meets with anyone here in Washington -- with officials of the U.S. Government, though not the Executive Branch of government?
MR. BURNS: We're going to be disappointed if the Taiwanese authorities do not stick to the commitment they have made that this will be a private visit; and that means the activities should be private and they should not have an official air about them. I think it's very clear where that line is. I don't think it's hard to discern what's a private activity and what's an official activity because again the distinction that I'm making is the Executive Branch of the government which is discussing this issue has to be responsible for its own actions.
We can't be in a position and are not willing to put ourselves in a position in advising other branches of the government. That's simply up to them.
Q Have you said already -- and I apologize if this question has been asked -- is President Lee going to be able to come to Washington?
MR. BURNS: There are no plans for President Lee to come to Washington. There are plans for President Lee to visit Ithaca, New York, the home of Cornell University, and that was the nature of the request that came to us. The request was not to visit Washington. It was not to visit Chicago. It was not to visit Miami. It was to visit Ithaca.
Q How about New York?
MR. BURNS: As far as I know, the itinerary has to be worked out. The itinerary is focused on Ithaca, and the itinerary is grounded in the fact that this is a private visit, and so that's what's important to us.
Q Nick, does a visa have travel restrictions specific -- again, I was out, too, if you've covered it -- does the visa -- what is it, a visitor's visa? -- does it proscribe travel beyond a certain point?
MR. BURNS: We intend to issue, through the American Institute in Taiwan, a standard visitor's visa to President Lee. Normally, from my days as a consular officer a long time ago, there are no special limits put on most visitor's visas, although consular officers reserve the right to do so.
I think in this case we will be content with working out a detailed sense on both sides of what the itinerary is. And as long as we can be convinced that it's private and that it conforms to the request that came in, which is for the focus of a visit on Cornell -- Ithaca, New York -- then we'll be content.
Q What do you right in the box where it says "citizen of," and what do you do when he writes in --(laughter) --
MR. BURNS: Very good question. We'll have to look at the --
Q Will you accept the application even if the box isn't filled out to your satisfaction?
MR. BURNS: I think in this case we'll probably accept the application, Barry. That's actually a good suggestion. Let me make that to our people in the East Asia Bureau.
Q I'm still trying to follow up on Charlie's question. I guess I'm not quite sure what's gone on here. In your discussions with Taiwanese officials, have U.S. Government officials made it clear that this government would rather he did not meet with Congressmen? Is that part of the discussions, the negotiations, back and forth?
MR. BURNS: Since we're now getting into this in great detail, let me just make a subtle distinction here. The officials of this government do not have discussions with Taiwanese authorities. The people at the American Institute of Taiwan have those discussions. We don't have those discussions.
I'm not privy to all of the details of the conversations that were underway between those two sides, but I can say I don't think this is terribly complicated. We know what a private visit is. The Taiwanese authorities know what a private visit is. It is what it is. And, if it is private, it will look private, it will feel private -- (laughter) -- and, if it isn't, we'll all know it. (Laughter)
What we want to do is assure ourselves -- Judd, let me just -- since you're so interested in this, let just finish. What we want to do is assure ourselves that the basis upon which we made our decision that this would be a private visit to -- you know, high above Cayuga's waters and all that -- Ithaca, New York -- Cornell -- remains the essence of this visit.
If there is any implication in the discussions between the American Institute of Taiwan and the Taiwanese authorities, somehow they would like to have an official visit, then we're going to have to review that. Right now we're planning to go ahead with a visa for a private visit, and I think it's pretty clear what the ground rules are.
Q (Inaudible) (Laughter)
MR. BURNS: But he wasn't a graduate of -- he's an alumnus of Cornell University.
Q Land-grant (inaudible).
Q One more issue for the record on this China thing. Have the -- can you tell us, Nick, have the Chinese, the PRC, said anything or asked a question whether our policy was beginning to change? Giving a little bit to the Congress now would mean giving more, and have they been concerned about that, and, conversely, can you assure the PRC that we're going to hold firm on our policy on --
MR. BURNS: We have reassured and we'll continue to reassure the Government of China that we're going to maintain the fundamental nature of our relations with China, which is based on the Three Communiques and which goes back now a couple of decades.
I think the Chinese Government is disappointed at this action that we have taken, and they have expressed their disappointment very clearly to Ambassador Roy, as they have to senior officials here.
Q Did they express a concern that there was a trend in this -- that it was a --
MR. BURNS: I think the Chinese Government has made very clear that they oppose this decision. They don't like it for a lot of reasons, and we simply have a disagreement here which we will manage, because we must both keep our sights on the longer-term imperative of improving the U.S.-China relationship. As you look toward the future, there are very few relationships that are as important for the world as well as the for the United States, American and Chinese peoples. So the President and the Secretary will keep their sights focused on improving that relationship by working through the problems.
Q Can I ask you about the Gilman bill? I know you talked about it yesterday and so did the Secretary. You don't like it. He doesn't like it. He's recommending a veto, and so on. But it's also been reported that he feels that there is some room for negotiation with Senator Helms on the bill. Where's the room for negotiation? Is there a middle ground between --
MR. BURNS: Fortunately for me, I believe the President is speaking to this issue right now. But let me just go back very briefly, David, and just summarize what the Secretary of State said yesterday on a couple of occasions, both in the morning at the Council of Americas in his statement and also in a letter that you all have seen that he addressed to the congressional leadership and also in his discussions with Speaker Gingrich yesterday.
And that is that we believe that this legislation is highly problematic in two fundamental respects. Number one, it infringes in a very clear way on the constitutional prerogatives o the President to conduct foreign policy, and there are numerous examples of that that I gave yesterday, that the Secretary has given, that were in a very fine piece over the weekend in The Washington Post
Secondly, that the budget marks presented, at least so far, provide us with woefully inadequate funds to meet the basic vital national interests and other national interests that we must advance to remain a great power. The Secretary concentrated his presentation last Thursday before the Senate Foreign Operations Subcommittee on both of these issues, and he feels so strongly about both of them that he took unusual action for him in denouncing it in very strong language. Also in making public the fact that he will recommend a veto to the President, along with Secretary Rubin and others, if this legislation is presented to the Administration in its current form.
I think I would summarize it by saying our destiny -- we are a great power. We are the world's great power, and we cannot -- I think there is consensus in the U.S. Congress and in the Executive Branch on that, that the United States has global interests and that we must pursue them.
Our position is you can't have foreign policy on the cheap. You can't have simply the rhetoric of foreign policy and not have the resources to back it up. How can the United States continue to work towards limiting the number of nuclear powers in the former Soviet Union if we don't have the Nunn-Lugar funds to do that. How can we advance the efforts of those throughout Eastern Europe, Central Europe and the former Soviet Union who want to privatize their economies without assistance from the United States.
How can we meet the very severe problems of the developing nations in Africa without the over $800 million we are requesting for the development fund for Africa. We have major priorities in each part of the world; if Congress takes away the ability of the Administration to meet American interests, all of us here -- in Congress, in the State Department, in the Administration and across the country -- are going to suffer. And the constitutional infringement is so serious that everybody in Congress ought to think about what will happen to successive American Presidents as they try to deal with the problems of the future. So we have very strong views on this, and the Secretary has made them clear and will continue to do so.
Q Is the threat to veto based on the infringement of Presidential prerogatives, and are you willing to give up on the money or --
MR. BURNS: The threat to veto is based on both factors. It's based on the constitutional problem and it's based on the woefully inadequate resources. If you look at the budget projections over the next seven or eight years and look how far down the 150 account will be taken, the United States will not be able to have a universal diplomatic presence around the world.
We will not be able to have sufficient money, we think, to meet the great challenges that this era presents us -- the challenges of the post-Cold War era -- to try to reach out to those countries that are making an effort to become democratic, to transform their economies into market economies and to help them.
That's not charity. That's in the interest of all of us. But, if you take away our ability to do that, you weaken the United States, and you certainly weaken our foreign policy.
Does the Helms' bill make Gilman better? Is Helms preferable to Gilman.
MR. BURNS: I think that the Secretary is on record opposing the Gilman bill. He is also on record opposing the consolidation called for in the Helms' legislation. We do not believe that USIA, ACDA and AID should be incorporated directly into the Department of State. We believe that each of these agencies carries out vital functions and should be allowed to remain what they are.
Q Is that the only portion of Helms that he objects to is that --
MR. BURNS: There's so much in this legislation, Carol, I'm just a little bit reluctant to give a categorical statement. I've given you our views on consolidation, on resources and on the constitutional problems. As you know, separately on the issue of Helms-Burton pertaining to Cuba, there are a number of aspects of that with which we agree; we think they strengthen the Cuban Democracy Act, but there are also a number of other aspects which we thin will be highly problematic for our relations with Cuba but also with a number of our allies, including Canada and friendly countries like Mexico.
So we're in a time here, this week and next, where a lot of this is fluid. A little bit is changing every day, and the reason that the Secretary has spoken out this week is to provide a very strong sense of our view of the inadequacies of this legislation. I'm sure the President can certainly speak much more persuasively to this issue than I can, and I thin he's doing that now.
Q Do you have any update on Fred Cuny?
MR. BURNS: I have no further update on Fred Cuny. The situation remains today as it stood yesterday. The Russian doctor has not been able to get into Shatoy, the town in Chechnya, because of the fighting around that town. I understand there will be another attempt made to do that.
Q Are we still represented in the U.S. Embassy part of the team that's trying to--
MR. BURNS: There is a member of the U.S. Embassy staff who is part of this effort in Chechnya on the ground. There is also an American diplomat whom I've mentioned before -- Philip Remler -- who has been detailed to the OSCE mission. I should just mention briefly that we've very encouraged by the efforts of the OSCE to set up the discussions this Thursday between the Russian security services and military leadership, between the Chechen rebels and other Chechen elements in Chechnya. These talks will be held in Grozny to try to begin an internationally mediated effort to resolve the problems of Chechnya.
It's a good first step. It may not be the answer to the problem, but it's what we had intended when we helped to sponsor the OSCE's presence in Chechnya. We wanted to get an international organization on the he ground to try to begin to work on these problems, and that is going to start on Thursday.
Q Thank you.
MR. BURNS: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 2:18 p.m.)
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