U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/05/24 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, May 24, 1995 Briefer: George Mitchell Charles Meissner Nicholas Burns IRELAND/NORTHERN IRELAND White House Conference on Trade and Investment ..........1-6 Investment Climate ...................................2-6 Mayhew-Adams Meeting .................................3-4 Relationship Between Violence and Unemployment .......2-5 Surrendering of Weapons ..............................4-5 ANNOUNCEMENTS A/S George Moose, A/S John Shattuck Briefing 5/25/95 on Rwanda War Crimes Tribunal ......................6 Secretary's Statement on Middle East Peace Process: Understanding on Israel-Syria Security Arrangements .....................................6-7 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Israel-Syria Security Talks ..........................6-12 - Status of Syria Request re Bridging Proposals ......8 - Meetings in Washington .............................7-11 - Secretary, Ross Travel to Region ...................7-11 - Background Briefing Today ..........................7,9 BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA Fighting, Violence in Sarajevo; Call for Air Strikes .13 U.S. Policy on NATO Air Strikes ......................13-14 U.N. Review of UNPROFOR; Strengthening Mandate .......13 Peace Talks: Frasure-Milosevic Talks; Zotov Talks ....14-15 Russian Report on Zotov Mission ......................15-16 Contingency Plan for UNPROFOR Troop Withdrawal .......16 Contact Group's Next Steps ...........................17 RUSSIA Partnership for Peace Signing Conditions, Timing .....18-19 Reported Lobov Remarks ...............................18 Views on NATO Expansion ..............................18-19 PAKISTAN Pressler Refund Proposal on F-16 Sale ................20-21,23 CHINA/TAIWAN Discussions re U.S. Visit of Lee Teng-hui ............21 U.S.-China Bilateral Relations .......................21-23 Defense Minister's Planned Visit to U.S. .............22 Cancellation of Official Visit to U.S.; Other Programs ..........................................22-23 Connection Between Lee Visit & Pakistan F-16 Sale ....23 NORTH KOREA Hubbard's Nuclear Talks in Kuala Lumpur ..............24 North-South Dialogue .................................24 TURKEY Congress re Arms Sales, Human Rights Concerns ........25 ALGERIA Assassination, Violence in Algeria ...................25
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, MAY 24, 1995, 12:39 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. As you know, we are starting the briefing today with a special briefing on Ireland.
It is a great pleasure to introduce Senator George J. Mitchell. Senator Mitchell is a distinguished public figure who served the State of Maine as Senator from 1980 until 1994. He was an outstanding majority leader of the Senate from 1987 until his retirement from the Senate. He graciously agreed to take on the responsibilities of Special Advisor to the President and Secretary of State for Economic Initiatives in Ireland in December and has been on the job since January. His February trip to the United Kingdom and Ireland set the stage for the White House Conference on Trade and Investment in Ireland, which takes place today through Friday at the Sheraton Washington Hotel. Welcome.
Together with Senator Mitchell today is Charles Meissner, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for International Economic Policy. Charles has been Secretary Brown's point man on the conference. He has extensive public and private experience in international business development. He has taken a special interest in the economies of Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland and will, in fact, return to the region shortly after the White House Conference.
Senator Mitchell plans to open today's briefing with a brief statement on the Conference's objectives, after which he and Assistant Secretary Meissner will be pleased to take your questions.
Senator Mitchell. Thank you for being here.
SENATOR MITCHELL: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for your courtesy in joining us. The White House Conference on Trade and Investment in Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland begins today. It is the first step in a long process which will require continuing American attention and support. We intend to follow through with the estimated 300 American firms who will be present at the Conference, and approximately 100 Irish firms will also be present to do what we can to encourage greater trade with and investment in that region.
It's an essential part of the peace process now underway.
I visited the United Kingdom, Ireland, and spent several days in Northern Ireland a few months ago, and, there, I was told by all concerned -- with everyone with whom I spoke -- that the most important contribution we could make was to encourage economic growth.
I had meetings with people on both sides of the so-called peaceline -- Catholic and Protestant groups, community development political leaders. They all said the same thing. There's been a high correlation between unemployment and violence; and to the extent that we can help in encouraging economic growth and job creation, we can be a significant, contributing factor to the peace process there.
The Conference will be a business conference, not a political conference, although we welcome the presence of political leaders from all points of view in Ireland and Northern Ireland. We think it's going to be a good success, but it is, again, the first step in the process.
I was pleased and gratified when President Clinton asked me to undertake this mission late last year, and have been encouraged by the response. I believe historic developments are underway in Northern Ireland that will result in a pattern different from that of the past, and that will be very positive for the people there.
So thank you for your attention. And so as to give the maximum time for questions, I'll ask Chuck Meissner to make a brief statement and then we'll be glad to devote the rest of the time to your questions.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MEISSNER: I'd just like to briefly lay out the Conference that begins tonight with a dinner at the Sheraton Washington. The Vice President will address the gathered multitudes. Tomorrow morning, we'll actually begin with the first business session on breakfast, which is a group of American CEO's for them who will represent U.S. firms that have invested in Northern Ireland and the border counties.
The main plenary session will follow that at which the Senator, Secretary Brown, Secretary Christopher, and the President will speak to the plenary session and then we will refocus the Conference specifically on business issues, in terms of the afternoon session, in terms of a workshop, in dealing with specific industrial sectors. That will be repeated in terms of different sectors but the same workshop format on Friday morning.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Dick Spring, will address lunch on Thursday as well as Sir Patrick Mayhew. There will be a breakfast on Friday morning that will deal with business and economic development issues and the role of the office in Northern Ireland -- the economic and development structure in terms of the Irish economy and the European Union.
We want to focus the Conference on business. The business of the Conference is business. We are desirous of promoting investment, trade, strategic alliances, franchises, licensing agreements, and trade representation agreements in an effort to generate employment within the geographic region of the conference focus, which is the six counties composing Northern Ireland and the six counties on the border of the Irish Republic of Northern Ireland.
We hope that through a generation of employment we can stabilize the peace process, extend the cease-fire, and make a contribution to a lasting peace in Northern Ireland.
Q What's the biggest obstacle to American firms who might be at all interested in investing in Northern Ireland? Do you have any firm commitments from these 300 businesses that are represented?
SENATOR MITCHELL: Our purpose is to make them aware of the opportunities that exist. They primarily are relevant to those firms who seek access to the European market. That's what the interest that has been evident so far focuses on.
Q But what's the biggest obstacle to firms going into Northern Ireland?
SENATOR MITCHELL: It depends entirely on the firm. There's no one obstacle that's uniform to all of them. Obviously, they seek reassurance that there will be political and social stability there. They obviously are concerned about the possibility of a return to the violence of the past.
For some firms, depending upon their business, the tax rate is important. For others, the level of education, literacy, ability with foreign languages, wage rates, employable persons -- these are all different business considerations and there's no single factor that's dominant for any one concern.
Q And have any of these firms indicated more than just a cursory interest in --
SENATOR MITCHELL: They're coming here to get information. Obviously, not many firms, not many individuals make decisions prior to receiving information on which those decisions will be based.
Q This is a political question, not a business question. There's a lot of anticipation about a meeting between Mayhew and Adams today. Have you been informed when and where that would happen? Do you expect it to happen?
SENATOR MITCHELL: I've not been informed of when and where it will happen. That's a decision by the individuals themselves. There will be in excess of a thousand people at the Conference, including many political leaders, and there will be a lot of private meetings.
I expect it will happen simply because I read about it in the papers and heard that they've indicated a willingness to meet while here. That's their decision, and we welcome any action that individuals take on their own at the Conference. But the Conference itself will be primarily devoted to business.
It's important to have the political leaders here because it demonstrates their support for this process. Clearly, political and social stability are inextricably related to economic growth. The United States is a favored place of investment in the world, in large part because of the political and economic stability that exists here. So investors obviously will consider that as a factor and the presence of so many political leaders indicates that they're going to hopefully encourage a process of peaceful resolution of the problems that exists.
Q Senator, you spoke of a correlation between poverty and violence in your direct remarks, and my question would go to the issue of are those people who are in poverty and most prone to violence, are they holding out the hope of this promised economic development? Are they waiting to see or are they still on the fence? And how about the weapons, the weapons that are coming from those people? Are they beginning to flow into the hands of the authorities, or are they being withheld as well?
SENATOR MITCHELL: First, my exact words were that there's a correlation between unemployment and violence, and that information was provided by the people of Northern Ireland themselves. During my visit, I held meetings on the same day with a large group of Protestant local officials, community leaders, developers, and a few hours later on the Catholic side with a comparable group.
They obviously did not orchestrate their presentations because they don't do much discussion across the line, but with graphs, charts, slides they made very effective presentations which made the same point, and they demonstrated the correlation between unemployment and violence in stressing the importance of what we're trying to do.
I'm not able to respond to the question regarding the state of mind of many of those participants, but the unanimous views of those with whom we've talked -- and I think common sense and logic and experience tell us -- that where people don't have work, don't have opportunities, don't have hope, there is a much more ready tendency to resort to sectarian hatred, violence and the use of weapons to try to resolve disputes.
So I think it makes sense, although I'm not able to cite to you a specific individual who has said to me, "If I don't get a job, I'm going to go out and shoot someone," nonetheless I think it does make sense. We're proceeding on that basis, and I must say we've gotten a good response -- enthusiastic -- from the people in the area to this approach.
Q Are weapons being surrendered?
SENATOR MITCHELL: That's a matter that's under discussion now between the participants. That's not within our purview. President Clinton has made very clear that the paramilitaries of both sides must get rid of their weapons, and Vice President Gore has made a comparably strong statement, and that's a subject of discussion in the process now.
Q Gerry Adams yesterday noted that unemployment among Catholics is more than twice as high as it is among Protestants in the north, and he called for essentially affirmative action. He even used the phrase. Is that an approach that investors from this group of companies should or could take?
SENATOR MITCHELL: It's important to distinguish between private business decisions or private concerns and decisions which involve support or funding -- direct or indirect -- from government. There are existing mechanisms through which public funds -- American, U.K., European Union, Irish Republic and others -- are invested in Northern Ireland, and they undertake very aggressive efforts to engage in targeting toward the areas most in need, and that's appropriate.
This conference is an effort to inform private American companies of the opportunities that exist in Northern Ireland. We have neither the legal authority nor the intention to tell an American company, "If you decide to invest in Northern Ireland, you must invest in this block or on that street or in this county or town." That in fact would be counterproductive.
We can, of course, make available to them all of the information and encourage them to take certain actions, but these are private decisions. The key is a coordinating effort that gets the maximum benefit from the private decisions and the public programs, and which also does the maximum targeting. I believe that is the current, and as a result of which I think it's going to be helpful to all concerned.
Q Thank you.
SENATOR MITCHELL: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.
(Senator Mitchell and Assistant Secretary Meissner concluded their briefing at 12:52 p.m., after which Spokesman Burns began his briefing at 1:13 p.m.)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome back. Welcome to the State Department briefing.
I have two announcements to make, then I'll be glad to go to your questions.
The first is that Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs George Moose, and Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, John Shattuck, will brief all of you ON THE RECORD tomorrow on the subject of the War Crimes Tribunal for Rwanda. Following their opening remarks, they will respond to questions from you. The briefing will begin at 12:30, and then I'll be glad to continue the briefing on other issues after they finish.
My second announcement is a statement I would like to read from the Secretary of State, Warren Christopher:
"I am pleased to announce that following the visits to Washington of Prime Minister Rabin and Foreign Minister Shara, and the exchanges between the Syrian and Israeli Ambassadors that have been taking place under the auspices of the United States, a set of understandings on security arrangements has now been reached.
"This constitutes a general terms of reference on which senior military experts from Israel and Syria will meet under our auspices to try to reach agreement on the security arrangements.
"It is agreed that senior military experts will meet here in Washington before the end of June. To help prepare for these meetings, I will be sending Ambassador Dennis Ross to the area next week. I expect to visit the region shortly after Ambassador Ross' visit, prior to the Washington meeting between the senior military experts.
"This is an important development. But there are still significant gaps between the parties and there is much hard work to be done on the security arrangements and on all the non-security issues.
"President Clinton has made it clear that we are committed to doing all we can to support and promote the efforts of Israel and Syria to overcome their differences, reach an agreement, and achieve a comprehensive peace in the area."
That concludes the statement that I just read, a statement from Secretary of State Warren Christopher.
A senior Administration official, well known to you, will join us at 2:00 p.m. for a BACKGROUND briefing on this issue. With that, I'll be glad to take whatever questions you have.
Q To go back to the statement. Maybe I didn't hear you right. Both have understandings reached, and you have people coming here to reach understandings. Did I hear it wrong? I probably did. You have a set of understanding now on security issues; the military commanders, they're coming here to work on an agreement on security issues?
MR. BURNS: That's right. You got it.
Q But I don't understand it, then. They either have an agreement or they don't have an agreement?
MR. BURNS: You want me to quote from the statement again?
Q Try one more time. Maybe it was drafted by a bureaucrat. (Laughter)
MR. BURNS: It wasn't. It really wasn't. I'll read that portion again.
Q I've been here 21 years. Try it slowly.
MR. BURNS: I'll it very slowly. Let me just say: In the aftermath of the Syrian Foreign Minister, Mr. Shara's trip here, there was a lot of diplomatic activity conducted by Ambassador Ross, and also, of course, by Secretary Christopher. Secretary Christopher met for lunch with the Israeli Ambassador this past Monday.
Secretary Christopher has had two conversations -- phone conversations -- with the Syrian Foreign Minister in the last 24 hours. As a result of those discussions by the Secretary and Ambassador Ross, a set of understandings on security arrangements has been reached. I'm now lifting that line from the statement I just read.
We believe this constitutes a general terms of reference on which senior military experts from Israel and Syria will meet under our auspices to try to reach an agreement on the security arrangements. That's all the security arrangements, Barry.
So I think that's pretty clear. It's clear to me.
Q Not to me. But, anyhow, moving rapidly along. While Mr. Shara was here, he was quibbling with your bridging proposals, suggesting that they didn't provide the symmetry that he thought was necessary and that he said Syria needed because of Israel's, as he described it, overwhelming military superiority.
Do these -- whatever this is -- this frame of reference, or something, or set of understandings, have they now resolved that or is that something that will have to be taken up here in Washington? Do the understandings take into account and provide the equality, symmetry, and all those other totally ambiguous words, that have been thrown into this exercise? Will the Syrians get what they want, or is that to be talked about here?
MR. BURNS: Barry, what I'd like to do is, refer you to our BACKGROUND briefing at 2:00 for all the detail on that.
MR. BURNS: I'm on the record, and I can say --
Q I really don't want to be spun if I can get an ON-THE-RECORD answer to what's a very serious question. The Syrians have been asking for things, and that's held this up, it's held Christopher up, and now he's beginning to pack his bag. Have the Syrians gotten their requests satisfied, or is that to be worked out here?
MR. BURNS: We've clearly made some progress. We've been able to announce today the resumption of security talks and, therefore, we've made progress, through very long and difficult discussions among all the parties. But I'm not going to get into the details of those discussions. The person who will brief you at 2:00 can do that much better than I because he was a part of all those discussions. So I just suggest we wait until 2:00 for that kind of detail.
Q Before the wires run out and file this, is it correct to say that what you were able to do was to get the Syrians to agree to what they agreed to two months, which is to include security experts in the talks here?
MR. BURNS: I've read a statement from the Secretary announcing that those talks will take place under our auspices by the end of June. So that is the product of the discussions that have taken place in the aftermath of the Syrian Foreign Minister's visit. Indeed, these discussions, of course, took place before that -- before the visit, during the visit and in the aftermath of the visit.
We feel this is good progress. I would take you back to the second part of the statement, that there are gaps, and there are further difficulties and problems that need to be resolved and that is the reason why we would like to continue these talks, to resolve all the problems. That's the ultimate objective of the United States.
Q On the Secretary's thing, he will be back in the region before the end of June?
MR. BURNS: The Secretary is saying that he would -- Ambassador Ross will be traveling to the region next week. The Secretary will travel to the region before the Washington meeting between the senior military experts of Israel and Syria. So that would mean, yes, before the end of June. But I don't have any specific dates to announce about the Secretary's travel.
Q One more for clarification, if I can. These military talks here, will they deal solely and uniquely with security questions, or will those talks branch out into other issues as well?
MR. BURNS: They're going to focus on security arrangements.
Q Only that.
MR. BURNS: I believe that's the focus of them, yes, because they're security experts. We all have Ambassadorial-level talks that have been ongoing and have taken place over the last couple of weeks. And, of course, they and the talks that the Secretary has with the Syrian Government, the leadership, President Assad and Foreign Minister Shara, with Prime Minister Rabin and Foreign Minister Peres, those talks, of course, are always broader.
Q The Ambassadorial talks will be in parallel. They will continue while these military talks are --
MR. BURNS: I think as needed.
Q Can we turn this around in a way and see if you'll affirm the obvious. The Secretary of State is willing now to go to the Middle East without security arrangements being worked out by Syria and Israel, is that correct?
MR. BURNS: I think that's a deduction from what we've just said, yes, Barry. I mean, the Secretary is going to go to the Middle East to continue his discussions. This will be, I think, his 13th trip to the Middle East since he took office two and a half years ago. Before that, Ambassador Ross will travel to the area. After the Secretary's trip, we would expect by the end of June that the security experts will have met here under U.S. auspices. So that's a logical deduction.
Q Since we haven't access to him, can you explain or tell us why the Secretary of State has reversed himself now and is willing to go to the Middle East to continue what is essentially bargaining over parts of issues that he has discussed in great detail with both the Israelis and the Syrians here and there? Why does he find it necessary to commit himself and his time to what is essentially a technical discussion?
MR. BURNS: I don't accept the premise of your question that he has somehow reversed himself or that somehow --
Q You know, you said he's not going to the Middle East --
MR. BURNS: -- or that somehow --
Q -- and we all knew it's because Israel and Syria hadn't worked out the security arrangements.
MR. BURNS: Barry -- or that somehow his participation in these talks, in the level of detail that you suggest, is somehow not useful. We think it is useful.
Q Useful --
MR. BURNS: The Secretary has said many, many times in the past, and I think I have said this week as recently as two weeks ago, that he would agree to go to the Middle East whenever it was useful and productive and when the parties desired it. And we have clearly reached that stage, because we have a commitment that the security talks now will be undertaken in Washington.
He is going to the region to work on all the issues -- the security issues and all the other issues on the Israel-Syrian track that pertain to the wider peace process. It is extremely useful for the Secretary to participate in those conversations and to conduct them, and our ultimate objective, of course, is to help the parties as much as we can to resolve all the areas of difference.
Q Nick, did you say it was going to be the military chiefs of staff or security experts?
MR. BURNS: No, I believe the statement that I read refers to security experts.
Q So we don't know that they are all military people?
MR. BURNS: I'm not saying -- senior military experts from Israel and Syria.
Q Oh, senior military people.
MR. BURNS: Senior military experts. I did not say chiefs of staff. I said senior military experts.
Q Has this whole issue been moved further than it was the last time the Secretary was in the Middle East when these senior military talks were already agreed to?
MR. BURNS: Steve, the Secretary was in the Middle East, I believe, the second and third week -- bridging the second and third week of March. At that time, as you remember, the Secretary's final press conference in Damascus at the end of the trip, he said that it was going to be our objective to try to convince both sides to restart the security talks, and that is what has been accomplished.
Therefore, getting back to Barry's question, that is the rationale for another trip by the Secretary to the region.
Q Nick, in March, either the Secretary and/or other officials said something far beyond what you just said. They said and he said, "I have succeeded in resuming the security talks." The Israelis --
MR. BURNS: Barry, the Ambassadorial-level talks --
Q They also sketched out for us a scenario that Dennis Ross would be going to the area in about two weeks. He went precisely in two weeks. And even without his going there, we have an agreement that military folks from both sides will be coming to Washington to participate in the talks.
MR. BURNS: Barry --
Q That's the way, I remember it quite clearly, and your answer to Steve now suggests that that wasn't all apparently locked up in March. I'd put it to you that you had something locked up in March, it fell apart, and now you've got it half put together again.
MR. BURNS: No, I don't agree, and to correct the record, what the Secretary announced, what others announced from our party in the Middle East, was that the Ambassadorial-level talks would resume under U.S. auspices --
MR. BURNS: And that one of the objectives of those talks was to pave the way for the resumption of military talks. But we did not announce in Damascus in mid-March that there was a firm agreement to security-level talks. That is what has been announced today. That is what makes today's statement qualitatively different than what was announced in Damascus in mid-March. I just want to set the record straight on that issue.
Q Can you detail the extent to which the Ambassador and the Secretary's trips will pertain to the security talks that will be in Washington after their trips? How much of this trip is devoted to setting up and supporting the security talks? Is it exclusively devoted to it?
MR. BURNS: What I'd like to do, having now gone through the statement and dissected the statement and seeing what it means, is to suggest that we're going to have a Senior Administration Official, who's intimately familiar with all these talks and negotiations, down here in about 35 minutes, and suggest that that individual take on most of these questions on a BACKGROUND basis. That's what I'd prefer to do.
Q Do you have anything new on Bosnia and where we stand today, new from yesterday?
MR. BURNS: I have a few things on Bosnia. I think, as you know, there was continued fighting this morning in and around Sarajevo. There were a number of people killed and some people wounded, among them a French peacekeeper. Our Embassy reports that Serb tanks have been sighted in several areas near the city. This is the first time that tanks have descended from the hills around Sarajevo into the city since the exclusion zone was established. I understand that one artillery round landed 250 meters from the U.S. Embassy but failed to explode.
I also understand that the United Nations refused to call in airstrikes, describing the exchanges of fire as evenly matched and not directed at civilians. NATO warplanes did overfly the city of Sarajevo at the U.N.'s request.
I would just remind you what we have been saying for the last couple of days, and that is we firmly believe that airstrikes are warranted in response to flagrant violations of relevant U.N. resolutions, and we stand ready to participate in any way we can to help enforce the U.N. resolutions if similar episodes take place in the future.
It's highly disturbing that the Bosnian Serbs can continue to act with impunity and continue to operate well beyond the U.N. resolutions, and in fact directly in violation of the U.N. resolutions. It is disturbing to us.
There is a review under way at the United Nations. We are awaiting the report of the U.N. Secretary General on the future of UNPROFOR. Our view is that UNPROFOR should remain in the Balkans; that it is useful. But we also believe that UNPROFOR's mandate has to be strengthened; that along with a cease-fire has to come the ability of the U.N. peacekeepers to protect themselves, and there has to be good cooperation, better cooperation and a better understanding between the U.N. and NATO so that the U.N. resolutions can be enforced, and that is presently not the case.
Q Do know why the call today for airstrikes was not answered?
MR. BURNS: As you know, there is a "dual-key" arrangement in place. I don't speak for either the United Nations or NATO, so I can't tell you why.
I think I attempted to explain it. We understand that the U.N. said today that they did not believe that strikes were warranted because they didn't believe that the level of fighting or the nature of the fighting involved civilians. I think we would submit that at any time tanks are firing into the city of Sarajevo, bombs are landing near the U.S. Embassy, they're certainly landing near civilians.
We have thought for a long time that there has to be a much more aggressive, forceful way of looking at the problem of enforcing U.N. sanctions.
I would also tell you that -- to pick up where we were yesterday, Charlie -- Secretary Christopher, in addition to calling Foreign Secretary Hurd yesterday, was in contact overnight by letter with all of his Contact Group colleagues, and that includes Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev.
We have reaffirmed to all of our Contact Group colleagues that we believe there's every reason to keep the Contact Group plan and offer to Serbia on the table.
Ambassador Frasure, who is now back in Washington, spent over 30 hours in discussion with President Milosevic. While he did not achieve the full success that he and we hoped for, we believe we've made progress. We believe there is ever reason to keep that offer on the table. Along with the presence of the Russian Contact Group negotiator, Mr. Zotov, in Belgrade today, I would just remind you that the Serbian leadership should know that the offer on the table is the only offer that the United States and the other Contact Group members -- but, specifically, in this case, France, Germany and Britain -- can support.
We do not support a lifting of sanctions, but we can support a suspension of sanctions in return for the recognition of Bosnia by Serbia; and the mutual recognition, we hope, down the line of all the former Yugoslav republics.
Q Just to clarify. Did I hear you correctly just now to say that the only offer on the table that can be supported by the U.S., Britain, and Germany -- and did you include France?
MR. BURNS: I did include France. If I didn't, let me do --
Q But you did not include Russia?
MR. BURNS: I just meant to get back to where we were yesterday, and that is that Mr. Zotov is in Belgrade. When we learned that he was in Belgrade, we contacted yesterday a senior member of the Russian Government. Subsequent to that, Secretary Christopher wrote to Foreign Minister Kozyrev to essentially report on the nature of the discussions that Bob Frasure had in Belgrade, and to suggest very strongly that we think there is every reason to keep this offer on the table with the Serb leadership.
If the Serb leadership has decided that for one reason or another it cannot support these proposals now, we are quite willing to continue these discussions when they are ready and able to continue them, and to continue to keep this offer on the table.
It is our hope here that we might be able to avoid what a lot of people fear, and that is the outbreak of a larger war this summer in Bosnia. We want to try to promote a cease-fire; we want to promote discussions for peace around the Contact Group map and plan, which remains the emphasis of the Contact Group, and we're willing to keep this other offer of limited sanctions relief, or a suspension of some sanctions, on the table if Serbia can commit itself to the recognition of Bosnia.
That's a very important principle, because, in effect, what the Serb leadership would be saying is that there are other states that have a reason and a right to exist as a result of the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.
Q Did Mr. Kozyrev -- has he replied to tell us anything about what Mr. Zotov is doing with Mr. Milosevic?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe that we have heard from Minister Kozyrev. This letter was just delivered today in Moscow, and I don't believe there's been a response to the Secretary.
Q Has there been any reply from the Russians on what Zotov is doing and what his message is?
MR. BURNS: We have been in contact with the Russians, both in Moscow through our Embassy and in other venues. We have simply made our views clear as to what we think Ambassador Frasure accomplished, what we think remains to be accomplished.
I'm not aware of any kind of substantive brief on the Russian side of what Mr. Zotov intends to do. It may exist; it may have been communicated to American diplomats in the area, but I have nothing to report to you on that.
Q Can we move to Pakistan?
MR. BURNS: Do you want to stay on Bosnia, just for a minute?
Q One more on Bosnia, if I could, if anybody else has got one. (Inaudible) reportedly briefed the NATO Ambassadors in detail on the four-option plan of withdrawing or protecting UNPROFOR troops. General Shalikashvili has also been quoted as making some remarks about "the decision has not yet been made."
In Sarajevo, it is reported that the increased fighting is a result of the breakdown of the talks with Frasure and Milosevic. Could you, Nick, assess where UNPROFOR is? When is UNPROFOR going to make a decision on whether to implement some kind of withdrawal -- military cover?
MR. BURNS: Let me just take that part of the question first. As we have said many times before, there are contingency plans that have been worked out between NATO and UNPROFOR for the possible, hypothetical, withdrawal of the U.N. forces from Bosnia in the future. They are contingency plans. That's exactly what they are. They are plans that would be put into use if it were ever decided that the U.N. troops should be withdrawn. That decision has not been made.
It's the position of our government -- the United States Government -- that it should not be made now. It's our position that UNPROFOR should remain in Bosnia.
Since you asked the question, just to summarize again: UNPROFOR has a mission. It is to help to feed over 1.5 million people. It also has a mission to enforce the U.N. resolutions. It's the position of our government that that particular mission has not been carried out well.
Therefore, we have supported the idea of the U.N. Secretary General that there should be a review of UNPROFOR; that its mandate should be reviewed. We are anxiously awaiting the report of the U.N. Secretary General.
It's our position that as we review and hopefully transform the mandate of UNPROFOR, we will strengthen UNPROFOR, and we'll strengthen the link between UNPROFOR and NATO in the task of enforcing U.N. resolutions, because right now the Bosnian Serbs are being allowed to act with impunity. That is having very destructive consequences for the population of the protected cities, including Sarajevo.
Q For how long Contact Group is going to wait from Belgrade or from Pale?
MR. BURNS: You know, we're not waiting for any kind of response from Serbia. Ambassador Frasure had 30 hours of discussion. He had exhaustive, intensive, discussions with Mr. Milosevic.
The Serbian leadership is fully aware of what the offer is and what the offer isn't. So we're not sitting here waiting for a response. If they want to respond, that's fine. We'll be interested in any response they have. If we don't hear anything, we're simply going to continue with our business of trying to strengthen UNPROFOR's role and mandate, strengthen the link between UNPROFOR and NATO so that the U.N. resolutions can be enforced; continue our efforts to promote a cease- fire and talks about a cease-fire, and hopefully talks that will go well beyond a cease-fire.
We want to continue our efforts to convince the Bosnian Serbs to accept -- and I use the verb advisedly -- the Contact Group map and plan.
There was a statement yesterday from Pale that they might consider the plan. Well, they have considered the plan for many, many months and nothing happened. They have to accept the plan if they want to have discussions with us that go into the details of what the map and plan are.
Q That was the reason that I asked. For how long are we going to wait yes from Pale or from Belgrade?
MR. BURNS: Let me try to answer your question. Maybe get more to the point of your question. I think I understand it better now.
We have an offer on the table to Mr. Milosevic for possible limited sanctions relief if he agrees that Serbia will recognize Bosnia. We also have the Contact Group map and plan, which is a standing offer, for the basis of the discussions between the parties.
If we don't receive responses from either Pale or Belgrade on those two issues, we will simply continue our efforts to strengthen the role of UNPROFOR and continue our American efforts here that I'm talking about to convince the United Nations and the troop-contributing parties that we have to have a stronger basis to protect the exclusion zones and to protect the U.N. peacekeepers in the area. Because we think right now the situation has gotten completely out of hand.
Q Today the Russians seem to be laying down some conditions for signing the Partnership for Peace documents. There was a senior official in Moscow who said they wanted their objections to NATO expansion written into the documents. What do you know about that? And, have you been told about a date for the signing?
MR. BURNS: Carol, good questions. I anticipated it. We just saw before coming out here a couple of press statements from Mr. Lobov, who is the head of the Russian National Security Council in the Kremlin. We haven't had an opportunity to either look very closely at the statements -- I just saw them in the last hour -- or to, more importantly, talk to the Russian Government about the meaning of these statements.
So I would refrain from commenting on the specific statements, but I am quite willing to say that there is an agreement between the United States and Russia -- an agreement between President Clinton and President Yeltsin -- that Russia will sign up fully as a partner in the Partnership for Peace by the end of this month. The end of this month is next week.
So we fully expect that that commitment will be adhered to.
Q In those discussions in Moscow, was there no mention on the Russian side of conditions such as Lobov was mentioning today?
MR. BURNS: All I can tell you is I understand the discussion -- and this took place, I believe, in a one-on-one setting, so it's not first-hand -- is that we have a solid agreement between the two Presidents and the two governments that Russia will do what is necessary to become a full-fledge member of the Partnership for Peace by the end of this month. That would mean that Russia would do what the other candidate-nations for Partnership for Peace have done over the last several months, and that is to sign up in the two avenues, the two documents, that are pertinent here. I fully expect that will take place.
Q These agreements are always customized, and you really haven't answered the question, and that is was there any discussion between the Russians and the United States on any level -- Presidential or otherwise -- in which the Russians said, "Yes, we'll sign these documents, but we're going to put certain conditions, certain statements about our objection to overall NATO expansion in those documents."
MR. BURNS: They are customized, and I believe there have been hundreds of hours of discussion over the last six, seven months on this particular issue. It's been very intensively discussed. While I can't go into the details of all the discussions, I think it's very fair to say that there's not a fundamental difference between the way that Russia faces this process and any other country.
There may be certain things that Russia says that are slightly different than, say, Ukraine or Poland, but not in a fundamentally different way. What candidate members have to do is accept the premises of the Partnership for Peace, accept the responsibilities that go along with joint training, and so forth, and to go through roughly the same process.
So I don't believe there's anything here that is going to be profoundly different in substance and in the impact of what the substance means than with the other countries that have signed up.
Q Well, if Russia wanted to put in some sort of statement that says, "We're willing to go along with Partnership for Peace, but we don't want NATO expansion to go forward," that would be unacceptable to the United States and to NATO.
MR. BURNS: I'd rather answer it in the affirmative. I don't want to get into a hypothetical because this action has not yet been taken by the Russian Government. We hope and expect it will be taken in the next seven days.
Russia will affirm, as the other countries have, an interest in participating with NATO in the Partnership for Peace and in all the activities that that entails. Russia certainly has a right to speak about its own views on NATO expansion, but I think that would be done more in the context of just the normal diplomatic discourse than in this particular context.
Q And you have no actual firm date for the signing?
MR. BURNS: No, we don't. There are no firm rules for this. Russia can take this action any time in the next seven days or so. They can mail it in. They can send an official to Brussels. They can send their Foreign Minister to Brussels.
Countries have done this in very different ways, and it's simply up to the Russians to decide how they want to do it. I don't believe as of today -- at least I'm not aware of exactly how and when it's going to be done. We certainly expect that it will happen.
MR. BURNS: Any more on Russia? Pakistan.
Q What's your response to Senator Pressler's proposal on Pakistan's F-16 sale, which he suggests to deliver those 28 F-16 jets to Taiwan and Philippines, and then return the money to Pakistani Government with the payment of Taiwan and Filipino Government?
MR. BURNS: All I can tell you on this is that since the Government of Pakistan decided to pursue a sale of the aircraft late last year, the U.S. Government has been actively helping Pakistan to find a buyer for the 28 F-16 aircraft, and indications are that the sale of the planes are not likely to generate, unfortunately, sufficient funds to cover the original purchase price.
Taiwan and the Philippines have not inquired, as far as I know, about the purchase of these aircraft. Let me just go beyond that and speak to what was in the press this morning by saying that following the April meeting -- I believe it was April 11, between President Clinton and Prime Minister Bhutto -- President Clinton stated that he wanted to work with Congress to find ways to strengthen relations with Pakistan while preserving U.S. non-proliferation goals in South Asia and around the world.
The legislation approved yesterday in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee would help us build our relationship with Pakistan, as would legislation marked up earlier this month in the House International Relations Committee.
The Administration is actively consulting with Congress regarding this legislation and other proposals that have been made by members of the Senate and members of the House, and I believe that the fairest and most accurate thing I can say is that this is a work in progress. We are having discussions, private discussions with members of Congress about how best to meet the objectives that President Clinton laid out when Prime Minister Bhutto was here.
But I have nothing to announce today that would finally resolve the issue of the F-16s, and certainly nothing to indicate that there is an imminent sale to either Taiwan or the Philippines.
Q Will you consider the proposal?
MR. BURNS: We would certainly consider the proposal, but it takes two to tango. It's going to be up to Taiwan and the Government of the Philippines to decide that they want to do this. And as I said, I'm not aware of any indications that either Taiwan or the Philippines are on the verge of signing up to this deal.
The prospect of selling the planes to a third country is something that we certainly do not object to. We would like to promote that prospect, but I have nothing to announce.
Q On a related issue, have you had any further exchange with the Chinese on President Lee Teng-hui's visit to this country? Because the Chinese sources say that Beijing regards the visit as a fundamental change in the U.S. policy towards China and towards Taiwan. Chinese President Jiang Zemin cut short a stay in Shanghai, moved up to Beijing to convene meetings, high-level meetings to consider actual responses.
Are you -- well, two questions. Have you had any further exchange with the Chinese on this issue? Two, are you giving second thought to the other decision?
MR. BURNS: Let me answer the second question first, since it's the most interesting question. (Laughter) No. We stand by our decision to issue a visa to President Lee. It's the right decision. It is completely appropriate and completely consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act and the Three Communiques that form the basis of our relations with the Government of China.
In answer to the first question, as you can guess and imagine, we've had a number of discussions with the Chinese leadership over the last couple of days, both in Beijing and in Washington, and I'm sure that those discussions will continue.
Let me just reiterate something I said yesterday. Our relations with China are fundamentally important to the United States, given China's size, its power, its history, and its location in the world. We will continue to pursue good relations between the United States and China.
Those relations are sometimes difficult because of the presence of issues pertaining to human rights and other issues pertaining to geopolitics around the world.
On the subject of human rights, let me just say that we deplore the detention of Chinese dissidents and intellectuals which began late last week and appears to be continuing in China. These detentions appear to be part of a now annual security exercise associated with the anniversary in early June of the 1989 Tiananmen Square tragedy.
The persons detained have committed no apparent crime by internationally recognized standards. It's our understanding that they have merely sought to express their views peacefully on issues facing Chinese society, and several of them have petitioned the Government of China for a re-examination of the democracy movement of 1989.
We call for the immediate release of those arrested over the past week. We also urge the Chinese Government to release all persons imprisoned solely for the peaceful expression of their political and social views or religious beliefs. I can assure you that every time we get together with the Chinese leadership, this issue of human rights is on the agenda. It was on April 17 in New York when Secretary Christopher met with the Chinese Foreign Minister.
Q Anything new on the Chinese Defense Minister's visit to Washington, D.C., next month? Have you heard about --
MR. BURNS: I don't have anything to say on that. No, I don't have any information on that visit that would change it either way.
Q So far, have they mentioned they might call off that visit because of this decision?
MR. BURNS: No. The only thing I've seen is that the Chinese Embassy informed us that State Counsellor Li Guixian had cancelled his visit to the U.S. scheduled for May 30-31. The purpose of his visit was to study the U.S. Civil Service and administrative structure, primarily at the federal level, and he was to have meetings with the Office of Personnel Management. I believe that that visit has now been canceled by the Government of China.
Q What reason did they give for the cancellation?
MR. BURNS: I know this was subsequent to our decision on the visa for President Lee Teng-hui, and so I assume it is in reaction to that, and that is in fact the guidance that I have been given on this particular issue.
Q Does this trouble you in any way in terms of a trend of efforts by the Chinese to withdraw from what the United States had thought was a broad engagement?
MR. BURNS: I would go back to my earlier statement. It is imperative for many reasons that the U.S. and China have continuing contacts and have good relations, and the United States remains committed to both. So we are not going to take any particular action that would stand in the way of contacts between our government and the Government of China. We'd like to promote contacts, this month and in months to come.
Q Has Beijing notified you of any intention or decision to cancel any official programs between the U.S. and China or any official dialogue?
MR. BURNS: Not that I'm aware of.
MR. BURNS: Any more on China?
Q Stay on China, or --
MR. BURNS: Why don't we just finish up on China and then we'll go to Korea, and then we'll finish up.
Q Today's Washington Post mentioned that there is a correlation between this arms sale and President Lee Teng-hui's visit. Did you buy that?
MR. BURNS: Which arms sale?
Q The F-16s that Pakistan --
MR. BURNS: There's no correlation between the two. The issue of the F-16s is an issue that has troubled U.S.-Pakistani relations for many years. It was an issue that was most prominent during Prime Minister Bhutto's visit here more than a month ago. So there's no relationship between that issue and the issue of the visa for President Lee.
Q Is there any recommendation worked out by the Administration to effect the sale of F-16s or to reimburse the money to Pakistan?
MR. BURNS: I did speak to this a little bit earlier, and let me just briefly say we're working on the problem. We hope very much that we might resolve the problem, but there is no magical solution that has yet appeared to resolve the problem. We'll continue to work with members of Congress on it.
Q Some members of Congress are trying to block U.S. arms sales to Turkey because of --
MR. BURNS: Can I just ask if there's one more question from you on China, and then we'll go to Turkey? Did you have a question?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q On North Korea, I have a question.
MR. BURNS: I'm sorry. North Korea. Do you have one more question?
Q Yes, the wires report that the talks are deadlocked in Kuala Lumpur. In fact, Thomas Hubbard was quoted as saying that there has been no significant progress, none whatsoever. Nick, is this an accurate report?
MR. BURNS: I think you know that Tom Hubbard met with his counterpart, Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan over lunch today in Kuala Lumpur to discuss the implementation of the Agreed Framework and the light-water reactor issue.
After the meeting, Mr. Hubbard said that he was optimistic but could not report any progress yet, and the talks continue to be businesslike and useful. Yesterday I think the talks were businesslike and frank. So they're businesslike and useful today. The two sides have agreed to meet again in Kuala Lumpur, but have not yet set a time for the next meeting. But their delegations are staying there. We expect the talks will continue. It remains our objective to resolve the LWR problem.
Q Without the progress on the issue of North and South dialogue, will the U.S. still be able to provide light-water reactor assistance to North Korea?
MR. BURNS: That is not an issue that is being actively discussed these days in Kuala Lumpur -- the light-water reactor issue is. But we have said, and Secretary Christopher reaffirmed last week, that for the Agreed Framework to be fully implemented, there must be a productive and, we hope, successful North-South dialogue.
It is part and parcel of the Agreed Framework. But I would just remind you that Mr. Hubbard's discussions are focusing on a more technical issue, and that is the issue of the light-water reactors.
Q Thank you.
MR. BURNS: Why don't we take two more questions. One on Turkey, one on Algeria, and then we'll break.
Q Yes. Some members of Congress are trying to block U.S. arms sales to Turkey because of human rights abuses. What's your position on that?
MR. BURNS: Our position is that we have very strong relations with Turkey, that Turkey is a strategic ally, that we see no reason to change the fundamental nature of our relationship with Turkey as a result of any actions in the past couple of months. Turkey has withdrawn its forces from northern Iraq. We were delighted to see that.
We stand ready to work with Turkey on a host of problems that confront both Turkey and the United States in southeast Europe. Turkey is a valued ally. We don't support any move to decrease U.S. military or economic or political cooperation with Turkey.
Yes. One last question.
Q Two journalists have been killed in Algeria this week. That total is 40 journalists killed during the last two years. The Committee to Protect Journalists has condemned this assassination. What is your reaction?
MR. BURNS: Of course, we are following the situation in Algeria through our Embassy closely. I am not familiar with the specific tragic incident that you cite, so I don't have a specific reaction to it -- just to say that we continue to be concerned about the level of violence there, and we will certainly do whatever we can to participate with others in efforts to try to speak out against the violence in Algeria.
Q Thank you.
MR. BURNS: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:56 p.m.)
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