U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/05/25 -- DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Thursday, May 25, 1995 Briefer: John Shattuck George Moose Dick McCall RWANDA International War Crimes Tribunal ....................1-2,4-8 Conference of Rwanda Operational Support Group .......1-2,7 U.S. Assistance ......................................2 Shattuck Mtgs. with Rwanda Gov't./ICRC/UN Officials ..2 Kibeho Incident--Commission of Inquiry ...............3-4 Administration of Justice ............................1-3,5-7 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Israeli-Syrian Security/Ambassadorial Talks ..........8-12 RUSSIA Partnership for Peace Membership .....................12-14 NATO Foreign Minister's Meeting/NATO Expansion.............12-14 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA NATO Airstrikes ......................................14-16 Strengthening of UNPROFOR, Dual-Key Arrangement, Ceasefire, Political Negotiations ..................15-19 Zotov/Frasure Talks with Milosevic ...................15-18 Secretary Christopher Letter to FM Kozyrev ...........17 Bosnia Discussion at NATO Mtg. .......................18 IRAN U.S. Embargo/Relations w/Iran ........................19-20 NORTH KOREA Framework Agreement: U.S. Position on LW Reactor Issue ....................20-22 U.S. Position on Fuel Oil Diversions .................20-21 Discussions in Kuala Lumpur ..........................21 CUBA Status of Nuclear Power Plant Project ...............22-24 CHINA/TAIWAN Ambassador Roy Meetings with Chinese Officials re: U.S. Visit of Taiwan President Lee ................24,26 Sale of F-16's to Taiwan ............................25-26
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, MAY 25, 1995, 1:21 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Welcome to the State Department briefing. It's my pleasure to introduce to you today several Senior Administration Officials who will be discussing the U.S. Government's continuing support for the War Crimes Tribunal and system of justice in Rwanda.
The chief presentation will be made by John Shattuck, Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. He has recently returned from Rwanda and will brief you on the details of his trip.
Joining him to take your questions are George Moose, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, and Dick McCall, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Following their presentation and whatever questions you have, I will be glad to proceed with our Daily Briefing on other issues.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: Thank you very much. This is a briefing on the subject of Rwanda, and I'm very pleased to be able to make it. Last week I made my third trip to Rwanda. Assistant Secretary Moose had been there just a few weeks before, and Chief of Staff of AID Dick McCall earlier than that. My trip, to state in very concrete terms, our commitment to see justice done so that those who are responsible for genocide and crimes against humanity are punished. We are making this commitment because we are convinced that peace and reconciliation will come to Rwanda only if justice comes first.
At a 20-nation international conference of the Rwanda Operational Support Group that we helped organize in Kigali on May 19, I outlined an extensive new package of U.S. support for justice in Rwanda, and other countries also pledged their support.
Summarizing that briefly, first is a $3 million U.S. cash contribution to the Rwanda War Crimes Tribunal.
Second is a commitment of U.S. prosecutors and investigators to help staff that Tribunal.
Third, the United States plans to contribute $4 million for the administration of justice in Rwanda, pending the outcome of Congressional consultations.
Fourth, we are making arrangements for an additional $1 million contribution to the UN Human Rights Field Office in Rwanda.
And, fifth, we are pledging to supply the War Crimes Tribunal with all U.S. intelligence and other information concerning genocide and crimes against humanity in Rwanda that might be relevant for prosecution of the criminal leaders who will be the targets of the Tribunal's work.
This package of additional assistance substantially amplifies the assistance we have already given. To date, we have contributed $274 million for humanitarian programs in Rwanda, $4 million to rebuild Rwandan Government ministries, $2.5 million to pay Rwanda's World Bank arrears, and $860,000 for the Human Rights Field Office in Rwanda. In addition, we have a large Defense Department demining team in Rwanda today, and we have provided five separate shipments of vehicles, commodities, and rehabilitation assistance.
During my trip to Kigali last week, I met with leaders of the Rwandan Government, including President Bizimungu, Vice President Kagame, Prime Minister Twagiramungu, and Justice Minister Nkubito. I also visited the Kigali prison which has a capacity of 2,000 but now holds nearly 10,000 prisoners. I met with representatives of the International Committee for the Red Cross to discuss urgent measures to address inhumane prison conditions and overcrowding. In addition, I held meetings with the UN Secretary General's representative Shariyah Khan and with representatives of the UN Human Rights Field Office.
In my meetings I emphasized the urgency of action by the Rwandan Government, with U.S. and other international support, in three specific areas of justice.
First, the procedures and criteria for legal arrest must be made clear and transparent, and arresting officials must be accountable to civilian prosecutors and the Ministry of Justice.
Second, prison overcrowding must be reduced through measures proposed by the ICRC and through a review or prisoners' cases.
Third, magistrates and courts must be appointed and trained, and cases tried, perhaps through the use of foreign magistrates, by the Rwandan Government on an emergency basis.
The government agreed to work with us in all these areas to rebuild the shattered justice system. In my meetings, I commented favorably on the government's appointment of an independent international commission of inquiry into the killings at the displaced persons camp at Kibeho last month, and I received the government's commitment to prosecute soldiers and officials who commit crimes. These are important steps in the ongoing effort to end impunity and restore justice in Rwanda so that the cloud of collective guilt, mistrust, and fear that now hangs heavily over the land can be dissipated, and the process of national reconciliation can finally begin.
Based on the events of last week, we are hopeful that Rwanda may at last have turned a corner in its painful quest for justice, and we are committed to do all we can to make sure that this happens.
My colleagues and I would be very happy to answer your questions.
Q What are your conclusions now about what happened at Kibeho? What was the real death toll, and did the government try to suppress the real figures, you know, by burying people in mass graves?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: I think the numbers of killings are not known. The Commission was not able to come up with a definitive estimate, although it's said that it was considerably more than the number that was estimated originally by the government, which is, I believe, 300, but ranging anywhere from 300 to 4,000. Those are the estimates.
I think the Commission did receive the cooperation of the Government of Rwanda. It was an international commission made up of ten different countries, including one NGO -- non-governmental organization -- representative from the United States, and I think the report of the Commission has integrity. It is highly critical of the Government of Rwanda. It is also critical in other directions as well, but it has certainly, I think, made very clear that the firing on unarmed civilians is a violation of international humanitarian law.
The government has accepted that conclusion, and in my meetings with government officials, there was a commitment to justice within the armed forces and of the punishment of those who violate criminal law.
Q What confidence can you have, based on their initial attempt -- what looked to be a coverup?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: I think they initially reacted in a way that was very unfortunate, but I think the appointment of the Commission and the report of the Commission and the acceptance of that report, I think, goes a long way toward a more honest approach toward this subject. George.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: Maybe I could cover that, because I arrived -- I was in Kigali right after the Kibeho incident, and indeed one of the major points of our discussions with senior Rwandan officials during my visit was indeed to get them to initiate a commission of inquiry, and they did so, in fact, while I was there.
They announced, first, that they intended to establish their own commission, but, secondly, they broadened that to include international participation. I think that, in and of itself, was a positive indicator. I think the other things that John has just touched on, the follow-through mainly, acceptance of the commission's conclusions and recommendations, is a further indication that the senior levels of the government are willing and do intend to deal forthrightly with this issue.
Q Going back to the original massacres of more than a year ago, has this government or have the international investigators come to any conclusion? Was there a master war criminal -- was there a master plan, or was this just an ethnic dispute that flamed out of control?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: I think the appointment of an international war crimes tribunal by the Security Council, a tribunal of equal status to the tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, indicates very clearly that these acts of genocide were committed or initiated and instigated by leaders, and that the mass violence that engulfed Rwanda is a violence where there are responsible leading individuals.
Justice Goldstone, who is the chief prosecutor for both the Yugoslavian War Crimes Tribunal and the Rwandan War Crimes Tribunal, was with me in Kigali last week and indicated that the War Crimes Tribunal has a prime suspect list of between 300 and 400 names.
Those individuals will be very closely investigated by the Tribunal as it begins its full-scale operation, and a movement during Calendar Year 1995 toward indictments will occur.
Q And are these ring leaders in custody now?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: No. There are actually one or two that are in custody, but at this point, of course, there have been no indictments, and the investigative process is only underway. There are, I believe, several in custody in Europe, and it is possible -- entirely possible -- that some are in custody in the Rwandan prisons. Undoubtedly there are many, many others who are not in custody at this point.
Q Who is in prison now? Who are the prisoners that you looked -- overcrowding prisoners? Are they mostly Hutus, or could you describe them to us?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: These are individuals who have been arrested over the course of the last nine months on accusations of participating in criminal conduct, killings, during the course of the genocide that took place.
The quality of the evidence against them we have no way of assessing, and indeed the accuracy of any charge against any individual prison is very much up in the air right now because the Rwandan justice system is not properly functioning. It is for that, among many other reasons -- that the United States has made a commitment, along with, I might add, other countries who were present at the conference last week, to assist the Rwandan Government in making clear the processes of arrest and also assessing the evidence of those who are in custody at the moment and moving toward trials -- whether at the Rwandan national level or, of course, in the event that there are indictments against these individuals, at the international criminal court level -- at the International War Crimes Tribunal level.
Q Can I follow that?
MR. McCALL: Could I interject here? The administration of justice package -- we're currently consulting with the Congress on it -- the administration of justice package basically is focused on getting the system up and functioning at its most basic level, and that's at the prefecture level.
The fact that effective screening cannot take place of detainees really stems from the reality that there's no capacity. There isn't even paper. So AID had completed a six-month review of the justice sector and came to the conclusion that if we're going to be able to deal both with the genocide and the issue of who legitimately should be detained, you needed to get the system up and functioning, and that means simple things like desks, refurbishing court houses, training investigators, simplifying forms, making sure that there's paper for forms; and, equally, importantly, vehicles, so that investigators can go out and have the mobility to do their job. So that will be a critical element of the package that we've put together.
Q Wouldn't there be a concern that the investigators -- is there a concern about bias by the -- I mean, these investigators, I assume, would be government employees, investigating the people who committed atrocities. Is that how we are to understand that?
MR. McCALL: No, I think the important thing right now -- no. We will be attempting to reconstitute a system that was there before the genocide, which -- like every government agency, government ministry -- has literally been decimated by the events of last summer.
You can't very well demand accountability if there are no mechanisms by which we can judge whether or not that accountability is being met. From our viewpoint, it's been nine months since this government has come into being, and for nine months very little has happened in the way of the donor community focusing on how you get at the fundamental issues in that society.
It's been primarily a humanitarian operation within Rwanda, and the festering concerns about the genocide and the accusations continue to fester unless we and other donors -- and we've committed ourselves to this -- get a system and processes moving. Then you can test whether or not it is being applied objectively and judiciously.
Q When would you expect to see the first trials begin, actually?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: I think there's no real way of estimating that with any precision. But, as I said, we have two levels of criminal processes here. One is the International War Crimes Tribunal, and there's a commitment that's been made by the prosecutor to have indictments issued within Calendar Year 1995; perhaps not all indictments but certainly some indictments in the investigative process.
So at that level, I think we're looking at indictments in the next months.
At the national level, it is far less possible to be precise. But, clearly, the commitment of the international donor community to the issue of administration of justice and close attention by the United States and other countries in working with the Government of Rwanda to get its court system up and running makes it possible to contemplate trials within this calendar year as well, but I don't think there's any clear indication that that can occur.
Meanwhile, the issues of prison overcrowding which I mentioned will be addressed through the work of the International Committee for the Red Cross, with the international donor community, and the Government of Rwanda working very closely with them. That, we made clear last week as a matter of utmost urgency. It must be addressed.
Q (Inaudible) funds now? Because at one point Justice Goldstone said that he had almost no funds.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: It was a very successful conference last week. The Tribunal raised last week an additional -- well, it raised a total of $8 million of voluntary contributions from the countries in question, with the U.S. the largest contribution of $3 million and additional prosecutors and investigators.
The prosecutor made clear at the end of the conference that the War Crimes Tribunal is now fully operational with a commitment of these funds. At the same time, we are working to get a regular UN budget approved for the Tribunal. But I think it is now very much on parity with the Yugoslavian War Crimes Tribunal. It's obviously behind in terms of schedule, but it's very much operating. It will be functioning not only in The Hague but also in Kigali and in Arusha, in Tanzania. So there will be a very strong African and Rwandan orientation of the Tribunal.
Q Mr. Shattuck, could I ask a question unrelated to Rwanda?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHATTUCK: I think we've agreed that the ground rules of this. I'd be happy to be available at another time, but I don't think at this point.
Q What access will you have to the refugees who are still in the camps?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: I don't understand.
Q In terms of suspects? Are there suspects in the camps. I assume the UN has records of the people who are in the camps and they can go in.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: I think part of the problem -- and one of the reasons it's important to get the process of indictments underway -- is until there are clearly identifiable individuals against whom some body of evidence has been accumulated.
Other governments, including our own, are handicapped in putting people in detention. So until there is some basis on which governments can act to apprehend people, we suspect that there will continue to be people in the camps outside of Rwanda and elsewhere who will continue to be free.
Again, that's why it's important that the process of accumulating the evidence, of establishing responsibility, of making governments aware of the evidence that exists is important so that those other actions can be taken.
Q What was your name?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MOOSE: Dick McCall is the Chief of Staff.
MR. BURNS: Dick McCall is Chief of Staff of USAID.
(Following Assistant Secretary Shattuck and Assistant Secretary Moose, Spokesman Burns continued the Daily Briefing at 1:40 p.m.)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. I have no statements to make so I will be glad to go to your questions.
Q Could we start with the Middle East?
MR. BURNS: Certainly.
Q Since the briefings that we had yesterday, a new phrase has come out that the security arrangements would be balanced rather -- apparently this is the key word to deal with the process of symmetry. Is that correct? Does "balance" have a new meaning in the sense that it doesn't have to be numerically equal on either side?
MR. BURNS: I know there's been lots of analysis of our statement yesterday and some questions about it. So let me just make a couple of basic points.
Both sides have been working very hard on these questions for a long time. As someone else said yesterday ON BACKGROUND, I'd be glad to say it On-the-Record today. One of the things that's very significant about the understanding that was reached yesterday is that it's the first time since the Madrid Conference, in October 1991, that Israel and Syria have reached a significant agreement on one of the central issues in the peace process between those two countries. That, to us, speaks volumes.
It means that there is a seriousness now, and we hope an opportunity to pursue these questions.
I would also say that both sides, in the discussions that were held under our auspices in all of our contacts with them, displayed a problem-solving spirit that was quite constructive.
To answer your specific question, I think any efforts to portray the situation as one side or another having made substantially greater compromises than the other are simply untrue. So we think the announcement made yesterday is good for both countries.
Ambassador Ross will be traveling to the region next week and Secretary Christopher will be following sometime in mid-June, perhaps. Certainly before the security talks resume in Washington by the end of June.
Q Does the word "balance" permit the two sides to get away from the knotty issue of mathematical equality in terms of distance withdrawn, and size of security zones and things like that? In other words, can one have balance while at the same time having a different mathematical ratio?
MR. BURNS: It's probably impossible to answer that question at this point. What we have is terms of reference for discussions on the most difficult issues in the Syrian Israeli track. We have a commitment to pursue very difficult discussions within those terms of reference. But I don't think it's possible for me to give you a direct response to that question today because it presumes knowledge that we don't have.
The resumption hasn't taken place yet. It will at the talks. It will at the end of June, and we'll just have to see how both sides proceed as those talks are underway.
Q Nick, we all trust you, but can you give us any facts and evidence to support your statement?
MR. BURNS: I'm very glad you trust me. Facts and evidence to support my statements: I think you're probably looking for the details of the negotiations.
Q Who would have thought that?
MR. BURNS: Well, that's what I infer from your question. As you know, we have a long-standing practice in these particular negotiations of not revealing or discussing in public the details of the negotiations. The reason for that is that the United States does have the trust of both sides.
We want to retain the trust of both sides. These are difficult, complex issues that deserve to be discussed in private, and we hope resolved in private, before they're aired in public. So I'm not willing to do that, no.
Q Nick, if you can't give us details, can you at least elucidate a little bit on the type of agreement this is. It was asked yesterday whether it was initialed and the briefer said, no, it wasn't initialed. Apparently it wasn't written down.
Is it written down? Is it not written down? Was it done over the phone?
MR. BURNS: This was an agreement that was worked out between Israel and Syria under the auspices of the United States. It was announced here in Washington. It is a commitment by both sides to continue the ambassadorial-level talks, if necessary, but also to get to a resumption of the security-level talks. So it's quite clear what's going to happen in the process.
Where I'm not able to very helpful is in getting into the substance of the discussions that led up to the announcement yesterday or to get ahead of the game and try to anticipate the substantive discussions that will be taking place, both during Dennis Ross' trip and the Secretary's upcoming trip.
Q What form will the agreement take?
MR. BURNS: It takes the form of an agreement between both countries; a commitment they have made to each other and to us. As the Background briefer said yesterday, it does not take the form of an agreement that was signed, but it's an arrangement that was worked out. There were pieces of paper that were passed back and forth during this process.
The announcement yesterday is the definitive word on this agreement.
Q What is the agreement in written form? Some days, years from now, if I'm writing a book about this, am I going to be able to go and find a piece of paper that says X, Y, and Z?
MR. BURNS: I think probably yes, depending on the declassification procedures of the U.S. Government. (Laughter) I don't know when you intend to write your book.
Q Is the language of this agreement, whether written or verbal, suggested by people in this building or in this town? Was it essentially an American compromise?
MR. BURNS: This is a process in which the United States is actively involved. We are not a bystander to the process. We're interested in helping both countries when they want us to help and when they ask us to help. We were actively involved in these discussions.
I think, as you remember, just before the Secretary traveled with the President to the Moscow summit and to Kiev, Prime Minister Rabin of Israel was here and the Secretary had long discussions with him.
After returning from Moscow, the Secretary met the Foreign Minister of Syria. Those discussions helped in the development of the announcement that was made yesterday. In the aftermath of Foreign Minister Shara's departure from Washington, there were additional discussions here in Washington. I think I said yesterday that the Secretary met with the Israeli Ambassador here in the Department on Monday, and he had two phone conversations with the Syrian Foreign Minister.
There were discussions in capitals, and Ambassador Ross was active in the discussions. So, yes, we were an involved party. We do present our ideas in this process. We did present ideas in this particular case, but we're not the sole party presenting ideas. Both sides, of course, take ultimate responsibility for this agreement and this announcement and they provided, I think, the bulk of the substance here, with the assistance of the United States.
Q Nick, the parties are saying that the question of who is going to be participating in the security talks is still open, that it may yet be the Chiefs of Staff. Is that accurate as far as --
MR. BURNS: I answered a question on this yesterday and said that these are senior-level security talks. It's not possible to say now whether they will be Chiefs of Staff or other officials.
The important thing is, these are security-level officials from the militaries of both countries. That's what's important. But we don't know right now, since these talks are five weeks away, who the individuals are. But as Ambassador Ross and Secretary Christopher make their trips to the region, I think that will become clear. We'll be glad to talk about that when we have some clarity on it.
Q Another subject?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q The Secretary made a comment upstairs about welcoming again the fact that Russia had committed to signing up the P-for-P documents and suggesting that Kozyrev was going to be in The Netherlands next week. Kinkel, at a breakfast this morning, raised some real doubts about whether or not Russia was as committed. He said he met with Kozyrev last week in Poland; that Kozyrev basically said, "Look, we're not really sure we're going to be able to go through with this. We're waiting to see what the NATO communique says." and "I'm not sure I'm going to be able to be in The Netherlands."
Have you had up-to-date conversations with the Russians which reinforces in your mind the fact that Kozyrev will be there and that they will actually go through with this promise?
MR. BURNS: Yes, we have. We've had those conversations as recently as yesterday. I would just remind you, Carol -- as we talked about it -- at a very senior level.
I would remind you of something that we discussed yesterday, and that is, at the Moscow Summit there was a private and public commitment by the Russian Government -- in this case, by President Yeltsin -- that Russia would take the necessary steps to become a fully-fledged member of the PFP -- the Partnership for Peace -- by the end of May. The end of May is next week. We are confident that that will happen.
We have had continuous talks with Russian officials at various levels, but at very senior levels, over the last couple of days about this.
Russia can actually take the steps to sign up to PFP membership in various ways. It can actually be done through the mail. It can be done in Brussels. That is simply something up to the Russians to decide. We don't know which day this is going to happen, whether it's tomorrow or Monday or Tuesday, but we are confident it will happen.
I think it's a slightly separate question about Foreign Minister Kozyrev's participation at the meetings in Noordwijk in The Netherlands next week. It could be that there is a statement that comes out of Moscow about this that represents the commitment. It could be that it happens in Brussels.
In addition to these steps that we are confident will take place, next week's meetings are important. Because at the NATO meetings, the NATO Foreign Ministers will discuss the progress that NATO is making in studying the question of NATO expansion; and because Russia, we expect, will have taken the final steps towards PFP membership, it will be possible to begin the launching, or at least begin talking about the launching, of a NATO-Russia dialogue.
What we have said -- President Clinton and Secretary Christopher have said all along -- since January 1994, when the NATO summit made the decision at the head-of-state level about the future of European security, we have said that there are a couple of elements that are very important.
One is the development of the Partnership for Peace, which is absolutely essential to improving communication between militaries in the east and militaries in the west, and in developing the habits of cooperation and partnership and training that are essential to any expansion of NATO.
The second is the expansion of NATO itself eastward, which will take place.
The third is the commencement and then development of a Russia-NATO dialogue. This third element is what was at issue last December at the NATO meetings; last December 5, at Budapest at the OSCE head-of-state meeting, and at the summit in Moscow two weeks ago. We were very pleased, as a result of that summit, to get an agreement from the Russian Government that that third element would now be fully developed; that Russia would take the steps so that we could launch the dialogue.
That is why we felt that the Moscow meetings that took place two weeks ago were so important and, in this respect, very successful.
Q Can I just -- as regard to my question, are you persuaded that the Russians will do what they need to do with the Partnership for Peace before the NATO Foreign Ministers meet, and that they will not wait to see the communique be issued before they make a decision?
MR. BURNS: Yes. We think that will be the proper sequence; yes; that there will be a signal, an action, a statement from the Russian Government about PFP membership, and subsequently there will be, at the end of the NATO meetings next Wednesday, a communique. Yes, that's my expectation of what the sequencing is of these events.
Still on this issue? Anything on this issue?
Q Today's NATO airstrike. Two weeks ago, the UNPROFOR commanders on the ground in Sarajevo asked for such a strike. A strike under different circumstances was overruled by the civilian commander in Zagreb.
Can you tell us what has changed that made NATO strike today?
MR. BURNS: I can tell you that our position hasn't changed. Two weeks ago we thought there was a flagrant violation of the UN resolutions. We would have favored aggressive action at that time. We certainly would have favored an airstrike, and I think we said it at the time. We have said it all the way, everyday since then.
President Clinton commented upon this earlier this week. It was very clear from the President's statement this morning in the Rose Garden, and from the written statement that he issued, from Secretary Christopher's statement upstairs just a few minutes ago, that we have long favored this.
I can't tell you what specifically accounts for the change in attitude on the part of the UN authorities. But I can tell you, we're very pleased about it.
Yesterday's Bosnian Serb actions, of taking tanks down from the hills directly into the city of Sarajevo, were the most recent flagrant violation of the UN resolutions and very serious ones. So it could be that that was the final straw for the UN authorities on the ground.
We are pleased about today's action because it means that the United Nations and NATO, we hope, now have a concrete understanding that we've got to enforce the UN resolutions.
Q Were the Russians informed of the airstrikes?
MR. BURNS: I know that the Russians were informed. I believe it was done through NATO. I think Secretary Christopher spoke to this. He had a conversation with Secretary General Claes, the Secretary General of NATO, this morning. I believe the Russian Government was informed through that procedure. That's what I understand, yes.
Q Is there any agreement, though, on next steps? Because there's obviously a tit-for-tat and people are taken hostage, and so on. That's where the UN has fallen down on all the previous strikes. There's never been a real plan for what to do next. Do you have any sense it's different?
MR. BURNS: That better not happen. We certainly are not expecting or assuming that there are going to be reprisals against UN personnel. I know that was the pattern of behavior in the past when these strikes were launched. I think the UN authorities are certainly taking the necessary precautions and warning the people -- many of whom are exposed in isolated exclusion zones -- warning their people on the ground about this. But it better not happen because it would be completely inconsistent with what we think should happen now.
Let me just review that. There is an ongoing review of the status of UNPROFOR in the United Nations. We favor a strengthened UNPROFOR. We favor a strengthened dual-key arrangement. We favor a commitment by all the parties, led by the United Nations, assisted by the Contact Group, to try to achieve a cease-fire and some kind of commitment to political negotiations.
This links us, then, to the activities of Ambassador Bob Frasure in Belgrade over the last week. It links us to the standing offer that the Contact Group has put on the table for Mr. Milosevic. It links us to the offer that is still open to the Bosnian Serbs -- that is, to accept the Contact Group map and plan as the basis for negotiations. I want to use the verb "accept;" not to think about, reflect upon, consider, or wonder about it. But if they're able to accept it -- and that's the proper verb that has to be used -- then we're going to be ready for conversations with the Bosnian Serbs.
So I think we have in mind a series of steps that we hope it will be possible to undertake. But having observed this situation now for several years, I'm simply not in a position to say that's what is going to happen. We're going to have to wait and see what happens, what the reaction is. But I can tell you what we want to have happen.
Q What is this strengthened dual-key that you're seeking?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q What is the strengthened dual-key arrangement that you would like to have?
MR. BURNS: That there will be a mutual commitment by the United Nations and by NATO to enforce the existing UN resolutions. It's as simple as that. The United States, as a leading member of NATO, has said for a very long time now that we are willing to support NATO actions that support UN resolutions.
Q If I understand, it's something like "strategic." I talked to Sarajevo 10 minutes ago. The Serbs continue shelling Sarajevo. This is true. No doubt about it. What is the next step -- tomorrow, for instance?
MR. BURNS: That is not a decision that will be made in Washington, D.C. It's a decision that will be made on the ground by the UN authorities and the NATO commanders in the area. That's how the dual- key functions.
I don't want to get into the details of that because it's really a question for those people on the ground. But I think I have signaled to you what we think is a proper posture for the United States and NATO and the UN to take. We have a very aggressive posture in this instance.
Q Is there a message that the Serbs should draw from the target of this strike, that it was right near the heart of their stronghold in Pale and that it wasn't the sort of searching for the broken down artillery piece in the field but it was their ammunition dump?
MR. BURNS: I think the message is clear.
Q Which is?
MR. BURNS: The message is that it's time to stop fighting and start negotiating for peace. There is a peace plan that exists that we think makes sense and is a good roadmap for the future. That's the message. It's an unmistakable message.
Q It sounds like they are continuing to retaliate. So they have ignored the message, it sounds like?
MR. BURNS: We're just going to have to see what develops over the next couple of days. I think you saw the comments by Admiral Smith this morning. General Shalikashvili was speaking as I came out here. I think a number of our military people have talked about the military side of this. I'm not competent to do that, so I'll leave it to them. But I think our political message also is quite clear here.
Q (Inaudible) for a next action, like today?
MR. BURNS: If there are continued violations. We certainly hope not, and don't expect that to be the case.
Q Nick, a few minutes ago you said, if I got you correctly, on the question of "If UN hostages are taken" -- there's a cycle; it's happened in the past -- "that that better not happen." It sounds like a threat, if I heard you correctly. What would happen --
MR. BURNS: It's not a threat, Charlie. It's just a statement. It's a plain statement. It shouldn't happen and it better not happen because it's not the correct course for the Bosnian Serbs to take and it's not in their interest to take that course.
Q With the loss of all this ammunition, resupply becomes an issue now for the Bosnian Serbs. Are the monitors along the border with Belgrade going to be sharpening their pencils, or whatever it is they sharpen -- keeping a closer eye on that? Does the U.S. think they should? Are they going to be watching --
MR. BURNS: We certainly support the enforcement of the sanctions regime. We support steps to strengthen the sanctions regime, and that is one of the issues that's being discussed in the review of UNPROFOR up in New York.
Q But beyond the reviewing? This is an issue that's going to happen in the next day or two, whether Milosevic decides to rearm his surrogates in Bosnia. Are we going to be watching that with greater attention now?
MR. BURNS: We always watch it with the greatest attention, and we'll continue to do that. Absolutely.
Still on Bosnia. Roy.
Q What about Mr. Zotov's talks with Milosevic? Are you being briefed?
MR. BURNS: I believe we are being briefed. I don't have any details I can share with you on his talks. I would just remind you that Secretary Christopher sent a letter to Foreign Minister Kozyrev more than 24 hours ago advising him about the basis of Ambassador Frasure's talks, how they ended up; the fact that we still think it makes sense to leave that offer on the table, and that we certainly would absolutely expect that Mr. Zotov would be in Belgrade to back up Ambassador Frasure, to support him, and to support the positions that he was putting in front of Mr. Milosevic. But I don't have any details about the Zotov talks to share with you.
Q Is there any indication that he strayed from that, or that he may be presenting a different position?
MR. BURNS: I don't have any indications of that in Belgrade, that in his talks he is, because I don't have any details. So I don't have any indications either way on that one.
Q What about the advice of the Russian Ambassador in Belgrade was giving Mr. Milosevic at the same time that Ambassador Frasure was there? Do you know what that advice was?
MR. BURNS: I don't know what advice the Russian Ambassador in Belgrade gave to Mr. Milosevic. I'm not privy to that information.
Still on Bosnia?
Q In terms of strengthening the dual-key arrangement you mentioned earlier, can you tell us where this will be in the priorities of discussions of next week's NATO meeting, and what specifically you might be seeking?
MR. BURNS: As Secretary Christopher mentioned upstairs when he was with Foreign Minister Kinkel, Bosnia, and all of the questions that we've been discussing today that surround the Bosnian issue, are going to be on the agenda for the discussions next week.
They're not the focus of the discussions. The focus of the discussions are European security, Russian NATO dialogue and NATO expansion. Since most of these people will be in Noordwijk in the Netherlands, this issue will certainly be discussed, and we look forward to those discussions.
Still on Bosnia. Judd.
Q Different subject.
Q One more --
MR. BURNS: One more on Bosnia, Jim.
Q When you talk about strength and dual-key arrangement, you seem to imply that there will be this double command issue or arrangement. However, there are people in this government, in this building, who are not enamored of a double command arrangement. They would rather have a much simpler single command arrangement. Is that now out of the question?
MR. BURNS: What we have in place as of today is a dual-key arrangement, and so therefore it's the only one I can really comment upon, and that's the only one that's really pertinent to the question of what happened today and what's going to happen tomorrow.
As for what happens in the UN review, we'll just have to see the reports that the UN Secretary General presents to the Security Council, and then we will weigh in -- the United States will weigh in with our own views. But I don't have anything to give you that this government is leaning towards ending the dual-key arrangement. I'm not saying that at all.
Bosnia? Anymore? Lee.
Q If the Bosnian Serbs did take UN peacekeepers hostage, would they face certain military retaliation?
MR. BURNS: I don't speak for the people who make those decisions, who are military people, but I certainly want to repeat what I said earlier. That should not happen. It better not happen. It's not what we expect to have happen.
Q Different subject. On Iran. This morning a senior White House official said that political negotiations with Iran are still possible, even though there's an embargo regime. Is this an accurate portrayal of the Administration's policy on Iran at this time?
MR. BURNS: Discussions with Iran? Some White House official said --
Q Political dialogue. Helen Laipson said that.
MR. BURNS: All I would say on that is to remind you that we do not have diplomatic relations with Iran for well known reasons. We always remain interested in dialogue with any country as long as it's authoritative, and I would emphasize the word "authoritative," if that dialogue or those discussions can help resolve problems that are extant; I don't have to remind you of how many problems there are in our relationship with Iran.
I have nothing to say about any dialogue that may be taking place, because I'm not aware of any official, authoritative dialogue that is currently taking place on any kind of substantial level between the two governments. But it's well known to the Iranians what has to happen for us to return to a normal relationship. Lots of things have to happen.
We can start with the nuclear question. They have to stop their campaign to build a nuclear weapons capability. They have to stop their efforts to import undercover technologies that would help them in that campaign. They have to end their support, their very clear and obvious support, for many of the most notorious terrorist groups around the world, and they have to end their efforts to sabotage the Middle East peace process.
But that's just for starters. I think it's very clear to the Iranian Government what has to happen for the United States to have any kind of meaningful relationship with it.
Q Nick, before they stopped all that behavior you just ticked off, would we still enter into a dialogue at stopping that behavior?
MR. BURNS: I mean, beyond what I just said, I said at the very beginning of my response to the question that when it is useful for the United States to discuss issues with another government, even a government with which we don't have diplomatic relations, that always remains an option for the United States.
I am not aware and I have not seen the comments reported here today and I am not aware of any current efforts to do that.
Still on Iran? Okay, Judd, you've been waiting.
Q Nick, last night press reports about Bob Gallucci's remarks in New York indicate that he linked once again -- this is deja vu all over again, I think -- the resumption of oil shipments to North Korea to resolving the light-water reactor dispute.
You and other officials of this government were at great lengths last week to unlink what had been linked, and where do we stand on this?
MR. BURNS: Well, Bob Gallucci's not Yogi Berra, so it's not deja vu all over again.
Q But he is a baseball fan.
MR. BURNS: But he is a big baseball fan. I talked with Ambassador Gallucci this morning. He and I both read with great interest the press reports on his speech in New York last evening and let me just review on his behalf, and on behalf of the Department, where we stand on this issue of light-water reactor, any connection to fuel oil shipment.
The United States Government does not link the continuation of the oil shipments to North Korea with the issue of the light-water reactors. Our position is we are willing to go ahead -- we would be willing to go ahead, rather, with the oil shipments as soon as we can work out a mechanism that will ensure no future diversions of oil in the future shipments. We have not linked the two issues.
The North Korean Government has linked the two issues. Their position is that they're not willing to have the talks about the mechanism to prevent future oil diversion until the issue of the light- water reactors is resolved. That is a North Korean position. That is the linkage that takes place.
In his remarks last evening, Ambassador Gallucci tried to explain the nuances of the North Korean position and what we hope is the clarity of the U.S. position, and what I repeated to you today is the U.S. position. It's Ambassador Gallucci's position. It's Secretary Christopher's position and it's our position.
Q So there's been no change in policy. We're exactly where we were last Friday.
MR. BURNS: There's no change in policy. We're exactly where we were last Friday.
Q Are you saying he was misquoted or what?
MR. BURNS: He was misunderstood. He was clearly misunderstood, and he and I both agree on that. Since we're on North Korea, if I could, Steve, then we'll go to your question, let me just review for you what I understand took place today in Kuala Lumpur.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Tom Hubbard continued to have in-depth discussions on the light-water reactor project with the North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-Gwan. We expect to have further meetings. We've not reached any conclusions nor made significant progress, but we have come to understand each other's position better.
This may be a basis for further progress in the days to come. Discussions the last four days in Kuala Lumpur have focused on how this very complex project can be carried out through the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization. The United States has explained its view on how it sees the project being carried out, which is on the basis of South Korean light-water reactors.
We've also explained that the reactors we propose to provide through this project are among the most advanced reactors in the world.
Still on North Korea? Any questions? (in audible) welcome back.
Q Our Miami Bureau says there is some sort of information that the Germans, British, French and Russians are doing some sort of work on a nuclear reactor in Cienfuegos. First of all, I was wondering if you have any information about that and, secondly, if you do, what kind of response the United States Government has.
MR. BURNS: Thanks, Steve. Welcome back. Nice to see you again.
Q Thank you.
MR. BURNS: Let me just give you what we've got on this issue of the Juragua Nuclear Power Plant in Cuba.
I understand that the Cuban Government and the Government of the Former Soviet Union initiated construction of this nuclear power plant at Juragua, which is located near Cienfuegos in south central Cuba, in 1983. In September 1992, the Cuban Government stopped construction of the plant because Cuba could not meet the new financial terms set by the new Russian Government that succeeded the Soviet Union. The Russians stipulated financial terms that further work would have to be paid for in a convertible currency.
In November 1992, Cuba and Russia subsequently agreed to resume construction on the plant on the condition that a third partner be found to supply the safety and instrumentation equipment to help finance the project. Although several foreign companies have reportedly expressed interest in participating in the project, we have no reports to indicate that they have decided to move forward. Several foreign companies are currently carrying out a technical and financial feasibility study of the project which we understand may be released in June.
In 1993, Russia extended a $30 million credit line to Cuba for the mothballing of this particular nuclear power plant.
Our position is as follows: We feel very strongly that sales for and/or assistance to the Cuban nuclear program should not be provided until Cuba has undertaken a legally binding non-proliferation commitment, including a commitment to accept IAEA safeguards on all present and future nuclear facilities.
I understand that Cuba signed the Treaty of Tlatelolco in March 1994 but has neither ratified it nor brought it into force. In addition to the non-proliferation concerns that I've just mentioned, we've had long-standing concerns about the quality of the plant's construction and about Cuba's ability to operate it safely.
I would just finally add that we have made these views known to all interested governments, including the Government of Russia.
Q You don't have -- does this government have any concern that Cuba seeks a nuclear weapons capability?
MR. BURNS: No, I'm not saying that. I'm not saying that at all --
Q Just talking.
MR. BURNS: -- in any way, shape or form. But I am saying that we do have concerns about this particular nuclear power plant -- about its construction, about the absence of safeguards. I think you know our policy towards this government in general.
Q Are you saying if Cuba were to implement the Treaty of Tlatelolco, that that would be enough, or do you think that they have to also -- I forget, are they a signatory to the NPT?
MR. BURNS: I am saying that there are several steps that have to be taken to satisfy our government, and certainly we need to start with the concerns we have about the non-proliferation aspects of this nuclear power project.
Secondly, we have had long-standing and we have ongoing concerns about the quality of construction, which in this particular field is, of course, of crucial importance.
So I think that there are a number of hoops, there are a number of barriers here that we think have got to be surmounted before we can be satisfied that this is a project that is worthy of any kind of international support.
Q What about the governments whose companies are interested in this project?
MR. BURNS: We are certainly making known to all of the relevant governments our concerns on this issue.
Q What has been the response?
MR. BURNS: I can't give you specific response. I would just add, apart from what I understand the involvement of the Russian Government to be in this project, I don't know that other governments are involved, but companies of other countries may be involved, and therefore it's relevant in that sense for the United States to have discussions with those governments.
Q Are you concerned because these are Chernobyl-style nuclear plants?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if these are RBMKs or VVERs. I just know that we have -- I don't have enough knowledge, enough detail, about our concerns, but I do know that we have concerns about the quality of the construction. I think given the fragility of nuclear power and its possible dangers, that is certainly and important consideration for us to have.
Q Another subject. On China. Have you received any messages or indications from the Chinese with regard to what specific action or actions they might take in protest against President Lee Teng-hui's visit?
MR. BURNS: No, we have not. I know that Ambassador Roy has met with the Chinese Foreign Minister and the Vice Foreign Minister and other officials over the last couple of days. There have been a lot of conversations. They've been serious conversations.
The Chinese Government has expressed its opposition to the decision that the United States Government made. But beyond what I told you yesterday about the cancellation of a visit to talk about administrative personnel issues -- from one government to another -- and the status of the military delegation that was here -- those are the only two delegations or visits that I know of that have been effective. I'm not aware of any other actions by the Chinese Government that would put in more concrete terms its disapproval and disappointment with this decision.
Q Have you worked out the itinerary for President Lee with the people from Taiwan?
MR. BURNS: That is currently being worked out. It is not yet fully worked out to our satisfaction or to Taiwan's satisfaction, but it will be, and it must be before President Lee arrives in the United States.
Q On the resale of the F-16s to Taiwan, should Taiwan make such a request, would you support it? Would you consider possible Chinese opposition to this?
MR. BURNS: Let me just say the Clinton Administration is not considering the sale to Taiwan of the F-16s purchased by Pakistan. The Administration does not believe that the sale of additional F-16s to Taiwan above the 150 already on order is necessary to meet Taiwan's legitimate defense needs.
There is no indication that Taiwan would want Pakistan's planes as a substitute for the F-16s that it has on order.
Q But what about giving those F-16s to them instead of waiting until a few years later?
MR. BURNS: As I just said very clearly, we're not considering the sale to Taiwan of the F-16s purchased by Pakistan. It is not in the cards. It has not happened. There's no one talking about it in official circles or unofficial circles.
Q Does is change from yesterday, when you said, "Well, if Taiwan and the Philippines express interest, we will consider it."
MR. BURNS: What I did after yesterday's briefing was to go back and talk to the people in this building who are responsible for this issue, and this is the authoritative words, so I was anxious to get it out today. I was very glad to take the question.
Q Are there other nations expressing interest such as, say, Kuwait?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any. I also asked that question. I'm not aware that there are any other nations that have expressed any concrete interest in these particular aircraft.
Q Concrete interest?
MR. BURNS: I say "concrete," because I can't be --
Q How about just "interest"?
MR. BURNS: -- aware of any, you know, ancillary conversations that have taken place. I'm not aware as of this morning of any concrete interest -- substantial interest by any country to purchase these particular aircrafts, the 28 F-16s that are at issue in our relationship with Pakistan.
Q Would you sell them to China?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe the Chinese Government has come forward and asked to buy them, so it's a moot question.
Q The itinerary and the issuance of the visa, are there snags here? You said you talked to them. Is there any indication that the Taiwanese are asking for anything that might constitute an unofficial visit?
MR. BURNS: We made very clear on Monday, and we have since Monday, that this is a private visit; the itinerary, therefore, must be seen to be and must be a private visit, and that all of the activities of the people traveling with President Lee must be private. There can be no question of any official activities concerning this delegation, for two reasons: because it would contradict the private nature of the visit, and because we also have unofficial relations with Taiwan.
So that's what's at issue here. We simply want to ensure ourselves that that point is being paid attention to, and that it is fully agreed upon. I have no reason to believe that that will be a problem. Itineraries for any visit by a leader are difficult to arrange in a normal situation. This is not a normal situation, and so it's just taking a couple of days, but I'm sure it can be worked out to the satisfaction of Taiwan and to the United States.
Q No reason to think that the Taiwanese are suggesting any kind of itinerary that would contradict those grounds?
MR. BURNS: I would just go back to my first statement that we want to make sure that when the visit takes place, it's a private visit, and it doesn't look to you or to us or to anybody else who is interested -- and there are lots of people interested -- like anything but a private visit.
Q Thank you.
MR. BURNS: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 2:20 p.m.)
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