U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/05/31 -- DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, May 31, 1995 Briefer: Christine Shelly NORTH KOREA U.S. Nuclear Talks in Kuala Lumpur ...................1 MIDDLE EAST Israel-Syria Talks; Secretary's Travel; Peres Visit ..1-2 Israel-Lebanon Border Clashes ........................2 Jordan Expulsion of Hamas Leaders ....................2 TURKEY Operation Provide Comfort, Security Consultations ....2-3 Report to Congress on Turkish Military Human Rights Abuses and on CYPRUS Situation ....................3-4 U.S. Talks re Conventional Arms ......................3,7 CYPRUS London Peace Negotiations ............................3 CHILE Sentences Upheld for Letelier Killers ................4-5 CHINA Reported Testing of New Missile (ICBM) ...............5 U.S. View of Timing ..................................5-6 TAIWAN: Lee Teng-hui Itinerary for U.S. Visit ........6 Cooperation with Pakistan re Missile Technology ......6 GREECE Congressionally-Mandated Report ......................7 BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA Protection, Reconfiguration of Safe Areas ............7-8 Blocking/Detention of Peacekeepers ...................7-9 U.S. Forces - To Be Addressed by President Clinton ...9 McCurry Remarks re NATO Air Strikes ..................9-10 Detention of UNPROFOR Troops as Terrorism ............11 SERBIA-MONTENEGRO Frasure Travel to Belgrade; Sanctions Relief Offer ...10-11 Milosevic Assistance in Release of UNPROFOR Troops ...10 Zotov Participation in Belgrade Talks ................10-11
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, MAY 31, 1995, 1:01 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. In an unusual state of events, I do not have any announcements. I don't even have any guests, although I will have guests later in the week, as you know. So I'd be happy to go directly to your questions.
Q Do you have anything new from the talks in Kuala Lumpur?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have a lot. I know that's not going to come as a big surprise to you. There was a meeting earlier today. We expect to continue the discussions in Kuala Lumpur. We expect to meet again later in either the working group or heads of delegation level format. But I don't have anything specific to report.
Q Christine, on a different subject. The Israeli Foreign Minister, just a few minutes ago coming in the building said it was -- put the onus for flexibility in negotiations on Syrian shoulders; said it was up to them to narrow the gap. Is that a view held by the Clinton Administration, and do you have anything to say about when the Secretary is going to be heading to the region?
MS. SHELLY: On the latter point, I don't have anything specific to announce. There's nothing different regarding the time frame for a possible visit by the Secretary than that which he indicated a few days ago.
As you know, Foreign Minister Peres is here on a private visit to the U.S. to receive an honorary degree from Brown University and to attend a privately sponsored conference on Middle East peace. He's having several meetings in town today, and he's having a lunch with the Acting Secretary. They will discuss a number of issues of bilateral and regional concern.
On the first part of your question, as you know, our policy is not to engage in specific discussions of the issues that are under discussion. We'd like to believe that it's most useful for us not to get into the middle of that and to let the parties speak for themselves.
Q Do you have a date yet for the military talks?
MS. SHELLY: I do not.
Q Presumably, it wouldn't start before the Secretary took his trip to the Middle East?
MS. SHELLY: Correct. The sequencing is for Dennis Ross to go out first. As far as I know, he will be departing before the end of the week. Again, I don't have the details on itinerary or exact dates yet to share, but I certainly will try to get that. Then after that would presumably be the Secretary's trip, with the military talks starting some time before the end of the month. I'm not aware of any change in that sequence.
Q Do you have any indication of what's going on across the Israel-Lebanon border or in south Lebanon? Apparently some shelling, rocketing.
MS. SHELLY: I in fact have not seen anything on that, but let me check and see if we can work anything up for later.
Q I have another one. Jordan is reportedly expelling a couple of senior Hamas members. Do you have any knowledge of that or reaction to it?
MS. SHELLY: I have not seen that report either. Let me check on that as well.
Q Yesterday, you said you would look into the "Provide Comfort" talks in Turkey -- between a U.S.-Turkish delegation.
MS. SHELLY: And I did.
MS. SHELLY: I did. I actually have three sets of things to cover from questions that you asked me yesterday, so let me go through each of those.
The first one is that, as you mentioned, you'd asked about the delegations that had been in Turkey for talks on "Operation Provide Comfort" and generally the state of play on our consultations with Turkey.
A delegation headed by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Eric Newsom arrived in Ankara on Sunday and held discussions on May 30 with the Turkish Government on U.S. security assistance and bilateral security relations.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Susan Koch is also visiting Ankara to consult on conventional arms control issues.
A delegation headed by NSC Director Mark Parris and including State Department representatives visited Ankara last week and had productive discussions with the government on "Operation Provide Comfort," which provides protection and humanitarian assistance to the people of northern Iraq. We consult regularly with the Turkish Government on all aspects of "Operation Provide Comfort."
The tempo of these consultations underscores the breadth and intensity of U.S. interests in Turkey, as well as the closeness of our friendship and cooperation.
You also asked me about the results of the recent Cyprus negotiations. Greek Cypriot and Turkey Cypriot representatives met in London on May 22 and 23. They had individual meetings with Presidential Emissary Beattie and met together in the presence of U.S. and U.K. officials.
Each side is currently reporting back to its leadership on those discussions, and the additional information I have is that Presidential Emissary Beattie will also visit the island soon for another round of talks with the leaders.
You also asked me about the status of an Administration report which is due up on the Hill regarding actions by the Turkish military and also on Cyprus. We have completed the report on alleged human rights abuses by the Turkish military and on Cyprus.
The report will be transmitted to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees this week. I expect that's likely to be tomorrow or Friday at the latest. But, if it does go up tomorrow or Friday, whichever day, I'll be prepared to address the report in greater specificity at the briefing.
The report is submitted in accordance with Title III of the Foreign Operations Legislation of Fiscal Year 1995, Public Law 103-306 which requests that the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, address: (1) allegations of human rights abuses by the Turkish military; and (2) the situation in Cyprus.
So I expect that either tomorrow or Friday at the latest we'll be in a position -- once the report is transmitted to the Hill -- to comment.
Q Can we get a copy of that?
Q Tell us about the content of the report.
MS. SHELLY: I can't tell you anything about that now. I'm not going to be in a position to do that until we actually transmit it to the Hill.
Q Can we get copies of that report?
MS. SHELLY: It's my understanding that basically once the report is transmitted to the Hill that you should be able to get copies up there, but we will not be making distribution of that out of the State Department.
Q I would like to have your comment in terms of the result of the Letelier case that was reached in Chile yesterday.
MS. SHELLY: Yes, I've got a short comment on that.
As you know, in late 1993 there had been a successful prosecution of Manuel Contrares and Pedro Espinoza for their roles in the 1976 murder of Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt, an American citizen, in Washington.
There was a conviction and sentencing that occurred at that time. It's my understanding that there had been an appeals process that had been going on, and that this process has now come to its closure with the confirmation of prison sentences for the two Chilean army officers who were convicted.
The United States applauds the successful efforts of the Chilean Government to investigate and prosecute this case. We are gratified that justice has prevailed.
Q Do you think it took a little long?
MS. SHELLY: I don't think it would really be appropriate for me to comment on the timing on this. Given when the murder took place, it obviously is a long time. But I think the important thing for us is that the process came out in the way that we felt that it should, and, as I said, we express our pleasure with the confirmation of those prison sentences. I think that in the end that justice is served.
Q The amount of years that they're going to get, because in the States they would have been convicted to 20 to life, and in Chile they were only convicted to seven years, so they probably will be in jail for only for half of that. Does the United States applaud that decision? I mean, it's okay?
MS. SHELLY: We are certainly pleased that the prosecution did take place successfully through the Chilean court system. We welcomed, at the time that the verdicts came down, the Chilean Government's certainly steadfast commitment to proceed with the prosecution of the case, and we, of course, cooperated with the Chilean judicial system, as you're aware, by providing the evidence which was used by the prosecution.
It's important, I think, to note that every person indicted by the United States in this terrorist case has now been prosecuted, either in the United States or in Chile, and so hopefully this will bring this very sad chapter to an end.
Q There were reports this morning in the Japanese press that China has tested a new ballistic missile able to strike Europe and the U.S. I wanted to know your reaction to that.
MS. SHELLY: We have only seen the press reports that China tested an ICBM, possibly on May 29. We don't have any further information on the reported test. I would note just as a general statement that periodic testing of ICBMs to ensure safety and reliability is a necessary and routine part of any missile program.
I understand that there are no multilateral or bilateral treaties or other agreements which would prohibit or restrict such testing.
Q Do you think it has anything to do -- it's not in retaliation for the visit of Taiwan's President?
MS. SHELLY: I don't believe that we're making any particular linkage between the timing of that test and any other issue.
Q Do you have any comment on the timing --
Q Christine, on Bosnia --
MS. SHELLY:. Can I finish the same subject matter over here?
Q Could you comment on the timing of the test, without direct comment probably on President Lee Teng-hui's visit to the United States?
MS. SHELLY: I just said we're not going to make any particular linkage between the timing of this and any other issue. I think it's up to the Chinese to address issues related to the timing of the test.
Q Let me try another question. Do you have anything on President Lee Teng-hui's itinerary here in the U.S.?
MS. SHELLY: I don't. I thought that we might have something on that for today, but I expect that we'll have something for it tomorrow. The final details of this were still being worked out yesterday, but for obvious reasons we're also trying to make sure that we put out announcements at approximately the same time, in both places, which will provide greater details on the itinerary and other events.
So that is something I thought I'd be in a position to do today, but I expect I will be tomorrow at the briefing.
Q It only took the White House about a week to make the decision to allow President Lee to come. Why has it taken so long for you to work out the itinerary with Taiwan?
MS. SHELLY: Because, naturally, it involves an exchange between the United States and Taiwan regarding what the elements would be. It's extremely important and was stressed by Ambassador Lord yesterday, that it would be important that the events on that would be consistent with the private nature of the visit.
So there have been some discussions about events that would be beyond the agenda. That has been the overriding consideration in terms of the shaping-up of those discussions and the agreement between both the United States and Taiwan. So we do expect to have more details to announce on that. But our exchanges on this have been, in fact, proceeding with all due haste.
Q One more on China? Go on.
Q Christine, there were reports that the Chinese and the Pakistanis had increased their contacts, especially their cooperation on missiles since the announcement of Lee's visit. Has the State Department any comment about that particular development?
MS. SHELLY: I would have to check into that. I don't know whether our understanding is consistent with that theory, but let me check on that and see.
Q I wanted to go back -- you said something in your series of answers about Turkey, about having discussions with the Turks on conventional arms. What's that about?
MS. SHELLY: I think it relates to the CFE Treaty. It's generally part of discussions that we have with Turkey on a broad range of security-related issues.
Q (Inaudible) again about this report. Do you know if there's going to be a report about Greece as well?
MS. SHELLY: Not specifically that I'm aware of. This is the one that's Congressionally mandated under the --
Q Because I believe the Congress also mandated the State Department for a report on Greece, because their aid was also 10 percent.
MS. SHELLY: I will check on that as well. I'm not aware of one being in preparation but there may well be. Normally, we hear about it when it's pretty close to being ready to be transmitted because of the public affairs aspect of dealing with that, but I'll be happy to check.
Q On Bosnia: Could you say something again on the question of the safehavens, because there still are reports coming in indicating that UNPROFOR may be moving out of some of these safehavens and reconsolidating in a more limited area. Does this mean -- is this actually a policy of better/fewer, but better/more protected? And are some of the safehavens going to be scraped?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have a lot for you on that today. It's my understanding that in the context of the discussions in the Contact Group as well as at the NATO ministerial meeting yesterday there was nothing that suggested that the issue of maintaining a presence in the enclaves of the safe areas was being revisited.
Certainly, the issue of reconfiguration is out there. I think everyone recognizes from the most recent experience that measures need to be taken to provide greater protection and safety for the UNPROFOR peacekeepers. But that does not extend, to my knowledge -- and, rather, I think the communiques would make the point to the contrary -- that to continue to provide a presence in those enclaves remains something that the international community, and specifically NATO and the Contact Group members, are committed to. So I don't think there is any change in that score.
There was one report we received yesterday that the Bosnian Government might be blocking some UNPROFOR troops in Goradze and Gornji Vakuf. We've checked into that report.
A Ukrainian UNPROFOR company has been blocked in their barracks in Gorazde by Bosnian Government forces. We're told that the U.N. has requested an explanation from the Bosnian Government on this. I think the Bosnian Government itself has expressed concerns in the last couple of days about the possibility of the withdrawal of UNPROFOR peacekeepers and that they have articulated those concerns to U.N. personnel on the ground, fearing what would happen should such a presence be withdrawn.
But I think that that is very hypothetical. As I've just stated, to my knowledge, there is not a plan to withdraw those troops. The U.S. is seeking clarification about exactly what is happening in those two locations.
As you know, the Serb forces have detained a number of British UNPROFOR military observers from observation posts around Gorazde. President Izetbegovic, in an interview yesterday, also expressed some concerns regarding UNPROFOR forces and their deployment, including some of the newly arrived British troops.
But we understand that the British Government has been in contact with the Bosnian Government to clarify exactly what the unit's role and chain of command would be.
Q Christine, when the Bosnian Serbs detain U.N. peacekeepers, they get condemned and threatened with military action. No such words for the Bosnian Government in detaining this number of Ukrainian peacekeepers -- how many Ukranian peacekeepers, and why are you being so soft on the Bosnian Government on the very same issue?
MS. SHELLY: Sid, I don't think you could possibly put any action of this type -- and, again, I don't profess to necessarily to have all of the facts associated with the incident. But there was one report which came to our attention, that we did try to check on yesterday, and this is the information I was able to get.
I don't think you can put the Serb actions against U.N. troops in all of the different things they have done -- whether they have been blockading entire segments of UNPROFOR, whether they've been catching individual peacekeepers, chaining them to posts, putting them next to heavy weapons sites, and any other type of activity -- I don't think that you can put shackling UNPROFOR peacekeepers near Bosnian Serb military facilities on a par with the type of incident that I described.
We try to be fair and balanced in terms of depicting the factual situation on the ground. But I would by no means make any kind of parallel between this one report that we did investigate and the rest of the pattern of harassment of UNPROFOR peacekeepers by Bosnian Serbs.
Q Are they still holding these Ukrainians, blocking them?
MS. SHELLY: I gave you all of the information that I had on that.
Q Does your information indicate they're still holding them or they've let them go?
MS. SHELLY: My information was that the Ukrainian UNPROFOR company had been blocked in their barracks. I don't know if they are still blocked. I do know that the U.N. is requesting an explanation as to what was happening on the ground.
Q Christine, could I go to -- just a little different subject. The current U.S. policy on Bosnia, as of at least this moment, is that U.S. forces will be used only to help evacuate U.N. forces or to help oversee a truce if there is such a state comes to pass.
MS. SHELLY: Let me stop you right here and just tell you that on the issue of U.S. forces, this is an issue that, in fact, is being addressed by the President in his speech; it's the commencement address, I believe, at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Spring. Even though the issue was touched on briefly earlier in the day by Secretary Christopher, nonetheless the President is addressing this probably at this precise moment. That issue is simply one which is the use of U.S. forces. That's one I have to take off my screen for today. I'll be prepared to come back to that tomorrow.
Q I understand. I was going to ask if you could touch on it. Can you touch on anything that Mike McCurry said earlier today about how the air power was called for, who called for it, and how those who called for the U.N. -- admitted that the U.S. contribute the air power, principally. He said there had been a error made somewhere about withdrawing UNPROFOR troops from harms way before these air strikes were made last week. Can you comment on that?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not going to comment on that, because I have not had a chance to see his remarks yet. I think it would not be wise of me to do a replay on something that he said just a short while ago.
Q And, finally, Mr. Frasure's mission to Belgrade is underway. I take it he's there primarily to negotiate the release of the UNPROFOR hostages. Is there any progress?
MS. SHELLY: At the Contact Group's request, U.S. envoy to the Contact Group Ambassador Robert Frasure returned to Belgrade today, as you know, to continue his discussions with Serbian President Milosevic.
I was asked yesterday whether or not he had other members of the Contact Group with him, the answer to that is, no, he's traveling alone.
The Contact Group is offering a recognition-for-sanctions relief package for Belgrade. The package will help secure Belgrade's recognition of Bosnia within its internationally-recognized borders and put more pressure on Pale to accept the plan.
Ambassador Frasure will continue his talks with President Milosevic on this package. He will also be soliciting Milosevic's assistance in trying to get the United Nations peacekeepers released. So that's also a second element of what he'll be discussing.
Regarding the other issue that is on the table, the recognition- for-sanctions relief package, as you know, we maintain very close communications with the Bosnian Government which supports our efforts. We believe that this plan is the best means to try to prevent a widening of the war.
Q Is it still suspension -- not lifting?
MS. SHELLY: That is correct. Betsy.
Q Christine, the wires say that the Russian envoy to Belgrade - - Zotov, is that how you pronounce his name? --
MS. SHELLY: Yes.
Q -- is also there and is also participating in these talks?
MS. SHELLY: That's not the information that I have. I'll be happy to check on that, but that's not my information. I checked on this point yesterday since we had a question on it.
Q Well, but he needn't be a formal participant but someone that Milosevic wants to include in?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not aware that he's there. I've not heard that. It's my understanding that Ambassador Frasure is having these meetings with Milosevic by himself. I'll be happy to double-check on that, but I wouldn't want to speculate at this point about others.
Q Have the talks ended for the day, and do you know if they will continue tomorrow?
MS. SHELLY: I have not heard that they've ended, so I expect that they will probably take some time to unfold. I'll be happy to try to provide updates on this as we can.
Q Is the offer that Ambassador Frasure took to Belgrade different from the one that was on the table when he left?
MS. SHELLY: It's basically the same offer.
Q Just one more. Forgive me if I missed it yesterday. Have you dealt with the question of hostage-taking as terrorism, or do you categorize it as something else?
MS. SHELLY: I think others have also addressed that. It's an act of terror to subject the UNPROFOR personnel to the types of actions that the Bosnian Serbs have employed against them. It is certainly up to them to release the UNPROFOR peacekeepers, which we call upon them to do. They certainly will be held responsible for any actions that they take against them.
Q But it's not terrorism?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know whether there's a formal distinction of this. I would certainly not hesitate to characterize that as an act of terror. I think it's a formality regarding the use of the term. I don't really see the distinction, in any case.
Q Any development in Kuala Lumpur about talks with North Korea?
MS. SHELLY: Didn't I just do that one? Didn't I do that question? I did that question. You'll have to either be informed by your colleagues or take a look at the transcript of the briefing.
Q Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:26 p.m.)
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