U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/06/12 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Monday, June 12, 1995 Briefer: Nick Burns RUSSIA Agreement on Purchase of Enriched Uranium ................1-4 NORTH KOREA Kuala Lampur Nuclear Talks ...............................4-8 --Progress on LW Reactor Issue ...........................4-8 --Secretary Christopher's Contacts with Ambassador Gallucci .............................................6 --KEDO ...................................................6 CHINA/TAIWAN Ambassador Stapleton Roy's Departure .....................8-12 President Lee's Visit to U.S. ............................8-10,12,26-27 COLOMBIA Capture of Drug Lord Orejuela ............................12-14 CUBA U.S. Contacts with Cuban Gov't. on Vesco Case ............14 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Bosnian Conflict/Fighting ................................14,17-19 --Upcoming U.S. Discussions with French President Chirac, UN Negotiator Carl Bildt, Bosnian PM Silajdzic .........14-17 --Discussions/Remarks on Strengthening of UNPROFOR, Negoti- ated Settlement, Rapid Reaction Force ..................15,23 --Contact Group, Map and Plan ............................17,21-23 --Report of Chirac/Milosevic Discussion re: UN Hostages ..17-18 --Report of Possible Strikes Against Missile Sites .......17-18 --Sanctions Enforcement ..................................19 --Ambassador Frasure/Milosevic Discussions ...............19,21-22 --Report of Payment for Bosnian-Serb Army Salaries .......19 --Report of Integrated Air Defense System ................19-21 --Call for London Conference .............................22-23 HONDURAS Investigation into Human Rights Abuses by Military .......23-25 DEPARTMENT Secretary Christopher Participation in G-7 Summit ........25 --Preliminary Mtg. w/Japanese Foreign Minister ...........25-26 EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC REGION APEC Ministerial Meeting .................................26-27 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Secretary Christopher's Trip to Region ...................28-30 Security Level Talks .....................................28 Prospect of U.S. Military Participation in Golan Heights .27-29 Discussion on Economic Conference/ME Development Bank ....29-30
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, JUNE 12, 1995, 1:28 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing.
It's a little bit odd. I don't see -- I'm searching the room for faces of reporters who travel with the Secretary; I don't see anybody. So if anyone's interested in talking about the Middle East trip, we can certainly do that.
The Secretary, as you know, had a very successful trip to Israel and Egypt, to Jordan and Syria, over the last five days. He comes back with a renewed sense of optimism about events in the region. I also think a renewed sense of determination that there is a window of opportunity for peace in l995. He worked very hard in his meetings to try to move things forward on the various tracks. As you know, we made a series of announcements in the capitals about further meetings, -- especially on the Syrian-Israeli track -- that we hope will bear some fruit. But I'd be glad to go into any aspect of that trip if you're interested.
Beyond that, I'm available to take questions on any other issue.
Q The Times has wrote out words like "peril" and "unraveling" to describe the Iranian agreement -- the purchase of on-grade uranium from Russia. How off- stride is that agreement, is that deal? Is it falling behind or in danger of coming a cropper or what?
MR. BURNS: Barry, I think the article is a little bit off-stride but not the agreement. I'm very much familiar with that agreement. It was one that was initiated by the Bush Administration in l992, but that was brought to a formal agreement in writing by the Clinton Administration in l993.
I think you know the basic outlines of this agreement. We intend to import into the United States from Russia approximately 500 metric tons of highly enriched uranium in return for payment of approximately $l2 billion from the United States to Russia. This $l2 billion will not come from U.S. taxpayers. Instead it will come from the U.S. Enrichment Corporation. And the uranium -- the HEU that we bring into this country -- will power the more than l50-l60 odd nuclear power plants in this country.
It's a very good deal for the United States because it provides us with uranium to power these plants for a long, long time.
I would say, even more importantly, it really strikes at the heart of an issue over which we have a lot of concern, and that is the disposition of highly enriched uranium in the former Soviet Union. Our attempts to bring those stocks down to a very conservative and low level, one that can be protected and safeguarded, and it certainly helps our non-proliferation concerns in general.
Now, on the specific article, suggestions that the agreement is on the verge of collapse are simply overstated. They're considerably overstated.
The initial shipment of enriched uranium from Russia, which is derived, as you know, from dismantled nuclear warheads, has departed St. Petersburg on route to the United States and it contains one-sixth of a ton of uranium. We have advanced money in return for this shipment.
I think it's true that this agreement has not gone ahead as quickly in implementation as we would have hoped when we signed the agreement two years ago, but it's a highly complex agreement. The U.S. Enrichment Corporation, which is not an entity of the U.S. Government, has to work out a fair price with the Russian Government. It is also a highly complex matter to deal with logistically. But this is a high priority for us. We're not giving up on it; we're going to implement this in full; we're going to see this thing through to the end.
I would also note that this article uses as its main source people who have not been involved since the inception of this agreement but people who have looked into it. Some of the quotes from U.S. Government officials, unattributed, I think give a very different picture of the status of this agreement.
So we stand by the agreement. We stand by our determination to implement it. I think if you ask the Russian Government spokesman what he thought, he'd say the same thing.
Q Excuse me. Did you say a sixth of a ton or six tons?
MR. BURNS: A sixth of a ton.
Q A sixth of a ton. Well, that's just a sixth of a metric ton.
MR. BURNS: That's right.
Q So it's just a --
MR. BURNS: It's the beginning --
Q -- very, very small one.
MR. BURNS: That's right. It's a small shipment. It's the beginning of the effort.
Q Is it highly enriched or just a standard brand of uranium?
MR. BURNS: It's highly enriched uranium. This is derived from dismantled nuclear warheads. And then the highly enriched uranium goes through a process of dilution here in the United States so that it is appropriate for use in a nuclear power plant -- for fuel in a nuclear power plant.
Q I'm dominating the situation. You mentioned price is not settled yet.
MR. BURNS: For the entire deal.
Q For the entire deal?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q But I mean it's a three-way deal, so to speak. You know, this fuel is to be used by American corporations in all. It's not a U.S. Government purchase per se. The U.S. is standing in.
Who has to arrange the price is what I'm trying to say?
MR. BURNS: We helped to put together an agreement between the Russian Government, the United States Government, and the U.S. Enrichment Corporation -- which is not an entity of the U.S. Government -- and the U.S. Enrichment Corporation was part of the negotiations. The challenge they're working out at an appropriate price. Each time you import a tranche of highly enriched uranium is up to the U.S. Enrichment Corporation and the Russian Government, not to the U.S. Government -- not to the State Department.
Q What is the price that will prevail all the way through? Each shipment requires a recalculation or an agreement on a price.
MR. BURNS: Yes. Since this is going to be implemented over a number of years, I think that's the case.
As I remember, when we announced this two years ago, we predicted a rough figure of $l2 billion, but it was not possible at that time to have a specific figure in mind.
Q Doesn't Congress have to get into the act in a sense that it advances the money -- which will eventually be recouped in sales to commercial uranium-generator facilities? But Congress first has to move some money into the proposition to get it going, right?
MR. BURNS: Right. But I don't believe we have a problem on that score.
Q No problem?
MR. BURNS: No. This is a two-year-old agreement, which was I think satisfactory to everybody in Washington in both branches of Government when we began.
Q Are we meeting in North Korea?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q Give us some details on what the negotiators wrought in Kuala Lumpur?
MR. BURNS: I'd be glad to. I think you've seen some initial press statements by Deputy Assistant Secretary Tom Hubbard, as well as some statements by Ambassador Bob Gallucci. Let me just run down what I have for you.
Our chief negotiator, Mr. Hubbard, said in Kuala Lumpur today that we have reached an understanding with the North Koreans on an ad referendum text of an agreement on the light-water reactors -- which, as you know, was the focus of the discussions in Kuala Lumpur over the last three weeks.
I am not in a position -- and neither is Mr. Hubbard, neither is Ambassador Gallucci -- to discuss the specifics of this ad referendum text with you today. We first need to complete consultations with our allies; on that score you know that Ambassador Gallucci and Assistant Secretary Lord were in Seoul over the weekend, and they are today in Tokyo.
We also need to have this agreement reviewed in Washington by the Secretary and other officials, and then we need to agree on the modalities of a coordinated statement.
If, in fact, we can fulfill the first two functions -- that is, consultations with allies, and then a review of this ad referendum agreement in Washington -- and I assume the second requirement is true for the North Koreans that it needs to be reviewed in Pyongyang. We would hope that we could move through this process rather quickly and that we could have an agreement in a matter of a couple of days. But I'm not in a position to predict for you exactly when that will be.
Needless to say, after the end of this latest three-week negotiating round, having also spent some time negotiating this issue in Berlin prior to that, we're very pleased we've been able to make progress on a number of the key issues pertaining to the LWRs -- the light-water reactors.
But I do want to just reinforce the point that we do not yet have an agreement. We were hoping to have one, but it is not yet fully agreed to.
Q Still on North Korea?
MR. BURNS: Yes. Bill.
Q A North Korean diplomat, is quoted in a very recent wire, as saying: "Now there is nothing left to do." Can you tell us, does that mean that this has truly been comprehensively completed? Is the sticking point on the oil? Has that been negotiated, or can you say any more?
MR. BURNS: Let me just speak for the United States. I certainly would not attempt to speak for the North Korean Government.
We do have a lot to do this week. We have to consult with the Japanese Government. We have just had some good consultations with the Republic of Korea. And this agreement has to be also reviewed in Washington. So there are steps left to be completed on this.
As for the specific question, Bill, I am reluctant to get into the details of this before we have gone through these two steps. When we have an announcement, we'll be very glad to put all the facts out in some detail.
Q How would you characterize Mr. Gallucci's meetings with the South Koreans? The South Koreans were reported not to be happy with some aspects of this agreement.
MR. BURNS: Secretary Christopher had a phone call with Ambassador Gallucci this morning. They also talked when the Secretary was in the Middle East over the last four or five days. And it's our understanding that the discussions went very well in Seoul. Both Ambassador Gallucci and Assistant Secretary Lord -- they were a joint team over the weekend -- had good talks. And I believe that the South Korean Government is fully supportive of what has taken place.
I should let you know, of course, that KEDO -- the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization -- has, of course, the central role in the North Korea Framework Accords and that there will also have to be some meetings in KEDO. Of course, the Republic of Korea is involved in that, as well as the United States.
Q You just said KEDO has the central role. In the past what I've heard is South Korea has the central role. Is that a change?
MR. BURNS: No. I meant to say as the agreement is implemented, and we've always said as the agreement is implemented, KEDO is going to have a central role. I was not referring to the provision of light- water reactors. I was referring to the overall framework and the overall activities that will be underway. And I think we said -- I think Christine Shelly said when she was asked last week, and I will say again that the Republic of Korea has the central role and will have the central role in the provision of the light-water reactors.
Q Is there any role for Russia in this?
MR. BURNS: It is theoretically possible that as KEDO proceeds in implementation beyond the central role that will be played by the Republic of Korea, there may be some subcontracts available to any number of countries or private entities, and it's theoretically possible, as we have said before, that Russia could be a part of that. But Russia will not have the type of role that the Republic of Korea will have.
Q Nick, was that the vehicle to resolving the -- to getting this accord down on that key issue -- the notion of subcontracting, not necessarily to Russia but maybe to American firms?
MR. BURNS: Barry, at this point since I haven't studied the ad referendum text, I'm really not in a position to go into details.
Q It's a Korean model problem. Either the North Koreans simply collapsed at the last minute or the U.S. made some concessions that aren't evident. So it's still a mystery.
MR. BURNS: I guess it will have to remain a mystery until we announce the detailed agreement.
MR. BURNS: It will be before that.
Q The agreement will be -- I mean, will the ad referendum text go to the President for review?
MR. BURNS: It will certainly be reviewed at the highest levels of our government, and certainly the Secretary would like to review this. I can't speak for the President from the podium here at the State Department, but certainly he has been interested in this issue in the past --
Q Who must agree to it?
MR. BURNS: -- and remains interested. Excuse me, Betsy.
Q Who must agree to it in this government? Who must pass on it?
MR. BURNS: Certainly, as I said, at the highest level, which means the Secretary of State and I assume it would mean the White House as well. I'm just not in a position to say that the President's going to sit down on Tuesday or Wednesday and look at it. I can't speak for him in that capacity.
Any others on the Korea deal?
Q Korea. Now, you said that South Korea is fully supportive of what has been done in Kuala Lumpur. Are you indicating that there is no differences over the stipulation about the type of reactor between United States and South Korea?
MR. BURNS: I'm saying that, as I understand it, Ambassador Gallucci and Assistant Secretary Lord had successful, comprehensive talks with the Republic of Korea over the weekend, and that both sides, both governments -- ours and the South Korean Government -- are satisfied at the completion of those talks. They are completed and that we are proceeding as I indicated.
Q Has the United States maintained its policy of insisting on specific wording in the agreement with North Korea on South Korea being the provider, or has it been expanded to include all of KEDO?
MR. BURNS: That would get me into the text of the agreement. It would get me into the details of the agreement. I'm not prepared to do that. But I did speak before about the central role that the Republic of Korea will play, and that, of course, is our continuing belief and continuing assertion.
Q Can I try a "yes" or "no."
MR. BURNS: I rarely do "yes" or "no." I have the liberty to not do a "yes" or "no" question, but we can try it.
Q Does the agreement mention South Korea? (Laughter)
MR. BURNS: Unfortunately, if I did a "yes" or "no," I would risk getting further into the details of the agreement, and I wouldn't want to do that without giving you a comprehensive view of the details. And I'll be prepared to do that as soon as we're prepared along with North Korea and our other allies, including the Republic of Korea, to announce this agreement, and we're not there yet. So I'm going to resist the temptation to answer the question, if that's okay.
Q Another subject?
MR. BURNS: Sure.
Q A couple of questions regarding China. Number one, Ambassador Roy to China has decided to come back before scheduled. Do you have any comment on that or on the arrangement? My second question is last Friday the People's Daily, the organ of the Chinese Communist Party, published an editorial describing the U.S. decision to allow Lee Teng-hui to visit this country as a belligerent act reminiscent of the Korean and Vietnam war. Do you have any comment on that one?
MR. BURNS: Let me take them in the order in which you asked them. Ambassador Stape Roy -- Stapleton Roy -- has served with great distinction in China for four years. He was extended by his agreement and at the wish of the Secretary of State to a fourth year last year. That year is now up.
He will be leaving Beijing shortly, and he will go on to a very significant assignment with the Department of State and remain in the Foreign Service. I would just like to reiterate that he is one of our most distinguished, most accomplished senior officers. His departure from Beijing has no political connotation. It simply means that his tour of duty is up.
The normal tour of duty for an American Ambassador overseas is three years. His tour of duty was four years. He must now prepare himself for his next assignment, which, as I said, will be a significant assignment, and he's got to leave Beijing in order to do that.
As you also know, the Administration is interested in naming as his successor a person of great stature and great substance, and I am not in a position to announce that because only the White House can do that. So we'll have to wait until the White House speaks on that. So I wouldn't in this case -- I have seen the same press reports that you have over the last two days -- ascribe any kind of political significance to the departure of Ambassador Roy. It is the normal change of duty for him and for any Foreign Service Officer.
On your second question, we have seen the statements from the Chinese Government, and I think I'm just going to limit myself by saying we remain interested in a sound and strong relationship with China. China is without any doubt one of the most important countries to the United States now and will be for the foreseeable future.
We have a very deep and involved relationship with China. It's highly complex. On a number of issues, we see eye to eye. On a number of others issues, we have some differences, and I would just single out for you the issue of human rights where we have some outstanding differences.
Certainly, we understand quite well the reaction of the Chinese Government to the issuance of the visa for President Lee. We just have a difference of opinion; we felt it was entirely appropriate to issue that visitor's visa on an unofficial, private basis.
Q You say this has -- the decision to recall Ambassador Roy has no political significance, but it does, would you agree, have political consequences in the sense that you have an old China hand, Chinese speaker, with a deep knowledge of the country -- his absence will certainly have consequences, will it not?
MR. BURNS: Stape Roy is, I think, without any doubt the premier China specialist in the U.S. Government. As you know, he was born there, he was raised there, the son of missionaries. He speaks the language fluently, and he served with great distinction.
But, Jim, I just remind you he has served one year over the normal term of an Ambassador, I think for the reasons that you cite. Because of his great skill, the Secretary decided a year ago to keep him there for another year. That's highly unusual, and he has now been assigned to a major post. He needs to get prepared for that post.
So, of course, any time you lose someone of his stature and his seniority, there is going to be an effect. But certainly there had to come a time when he would leave, and by mutual agreement he is leaving, and he's going to go on to another post, and he will be succeeded by some of great stature and great political and foreign policy skill. We're quite confident that when that person's name is surfaced, that it will be seen that this is an adequate replacement for Ambassador Roy.
I know what's behind some of these questions, too. This is a very delicate time and a difficult time in U.S.-China relations, and we are going to use all the resources of our government, and that includes first and foremost the resources of the State Department from the Secretary on down to try to make sure that our relationship with China is productive, and we are committed to that.
We're committed to a one-China policy and we'll remain committed to that policy.
Q Just to follow that up, there are calendars around this Department. It was known a year ago that this year extension would be up like right about now.
MR. BURNS: That's right.
Q How is it that no name has been put forward as a nomination to succeed him?
MR. BURNS: As you know, the Ambassadorial selection process and the processing of an Ambassadorial candidate through the system of ethics guidelines and congressional review and security investigations and so forth, and all of this, nomination papers -- all of this is quite labyrinthine and takes a long time, and the Administration has an individual in mind. The State Department does not announce Ambassadorial selections. The White House does, and we'll just have to wait for a White House appointment.
We thought about this well ahead of time, but sometimes Ambassadorial appointments move slowly. Sometimes they move mysteriously. This one we hope will not move mysteriously but surely, and we're quite confident that it will move surely enough that we have a good person out there within the foreseeable future.
I would also just like to say as a member of the Foreign Service that when Ambassadors depart posts, there are Foreign Service Officers who take over on an interim basis. We have a quite accomplished Embassy staff. We have a staff full of China experts there, and we have a very in-depth review of China policy and constant monitoring of China policy from this building.
I mentioned the Secretary, from Peter Tarnoff, the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, from Assistant Secretary Lord, who is a former Ambassador to China. We certainly are giving our relationship with China the attention and the senior level attention that it deserves.
Q Nick, a follow-up. Was the timing of Ambassador Roy's departure the result of mutual agreement by him and the Department?
MR. BURNS: Yes, it certainly was.
Q Nick, you mentioned the delicacy of the moment, but could you address this issue of division within the United States Government, especially between the White House and the State Department on China policy -- one. And secondly, what do you know -- what can you report to us about the results of the Chinese Ambassador's visit to the White House?
MR. BURNS: I thought everyone would be interested in Bosnia today. I'm kind of surprised to be heading down a China road so fast. (Laughter)
I'm not in a position to speak about differences. This government has a very clear policy towards China. It's a one-China policy. It is a policy that has been a policy of the United States through the last five Administrations, and I'm not aware of any significant differences in this Administration. If there were, I wouldn't talk about them in public. (Laughter)
Q (Inaudible) Bosnian question.
MR. BURNS: Any more on China before we get to Bosnia? Now I regret that I said that.
Q Can we stay on this subject for a while.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q Reportedly, Ambassador Roy personally opposed this decision by the Administration to permit President Lee to visit the United States. Can you confirm this at all?
Another question is, is he coming back to Washington at his own request or he's being recalled by the U.S. Government, perhaps to pre- empt the downgrading of the relationship between the United States and China, to be announced perhaps in the future, because there have been rumors -- PRC Ambassador Li Daoyu may be going home and not returning to his post.
Q Let me just try to clarify this once and for all, and I'll try to allay any doubts and suspicions and fears that you might have about this very normal bureaucratic procedure.
Ambassador Roy has completed his four years, one year more than normal, as Ambassador to Beijing. He served with great distinction. By mutual agreement, he will be leaving Beijing. He will be heading back to Washington for a reassignment to a very significant and major post, which we' will be in a position to announce at some point in the future.
I am certainly not aware of any -- and I can say categorically that the United States Government has no intention to downgrade its relations with China. China is one of the most important countries to the United States for obvious geopolitical reasons, and we intend to pursue a very active senior-level relationship with the Government of China, and we will expect the same commitment to improving that relationship from the Government of China.
Q On the issue of the capture of this Colombian cartel guy. Is the Clinton Administration preoccupied by the fact that there is a very poor record in prosecuting these men when it comes to Escobar and so many other of these people. Is the Clinton Administration worried that he is going to pretty much get away with what he's done -- a very light sentence?
MR. BURNS: The capture over the weekend of one of the leaders of the world's largest drug trafficking network represents a great victory for the Colombian Government and strikes a powerful blow against the Cali cartel.
The leadership and efforts by President Samper and his associates - - the Defense Minister, Mr. Botero; the National Police Director Sorano; and the Prosecutor General Valdivieso -- are to be commended. We look forward to the conviction of this drug kingpin and a prison sentence commensurate with the serious crimes he has committed.
We hope and believe that this will be the first step in destroying the Cali drug trafficking syndicate. We encourage the Colombian Government to keep the pressure on this particular cartel and other drug trafficking groups as a signal of the Colombian Government's commitment to fight against narcotics trafficking.
The United States will continue to support these and other efforts to reduce the influence of drug trafficking organizations around the world.
Q Let me follow up. That was the text of the press release from Friday. Also in that --
MR. BURNS: Sounded familiar? (Laughter) It's the views of this government.
Q In that release there is also a paragraph in which President Clinton congratulates the DEA. In Colombia there is a perception that when it comes to place blame, the United States is very quick to blame Colombia. However, when it comes to give credit, it's first and foremost the DEA that gets all the credit. Do you care to comment on that?
MR. BURNS: Let me just say that we were very quick to give credit to the Colombian Government on Friday. I just reaffirmed our congratulations to President Samper for his very quick and decisive action in this case. This was obviously a very capable effort by a number of Colombian Government entities, and we congratulate them for it.
The Drug Enforcement Agency has had a long relationship with the Colombian Government and with other governments in the area and is doing very valuable work. But first and foremost, this was an effort by the Colombian Government, and we congratulate them on it, and we hope that this commitment that they have shown over the last couple of days will be reaffirmed by subsequent actions to end the Cali cartel, to put it out of business, and to put the other drug cartels out of business.
Q Can we do Cuba? Have there been any contacts between the United States and Cuba since late last week on Vesco?
MR. BURNS: As I understand it, there was an initial contact by the Cuban Government with our Interests Section in Havana apprising us that Mr. Vesco may be in custody. We have expressed, of course, our interest back to the Cuban Government in Mr. Vesco. He has long been a fugitive of this country. He is wanted in this country by lots of people, including our law enforcement agencies.
I have nothing further to report to what Christine Shelly told you late last week. I don't believe there's been any significant subsequent contact between us and the Cuban Government, and I simply am not in a position to speak for the Cuban Government as to why they have detained him, whether they intend to prosecute him themselves.
Q Christine said that the U.S. Government was going to hand over some information that the Cubans had requested about Vesco. Can you say whether that information has been turned over to them?
MR. BURNS: I really can't. It's a pending matter. The Department of State does not have a lead on that particular aspect of this issue, and so I'm not in a position to really go into details of that.
Q (Inaudible) the Serb resupply of Bosnian Serbs in Bosnia?
MR. BURNS: Roy, that gives me an opportunity, perhaps, to say a few words about Bosnia, as a starter. I've been trying to do that for 20 minutes. (Laughter)
This is going to be a very important week in the development of the situation in Bosnia, and in the development of the West's policy towards the Bosnian conflict.
I would just note three meetings that will be particularly interesting and important for the United States. French President Jacques Chirac will be a guest of President Clinton here in Washington on Wednesday. Secretary Christopher will be involved in the meetings with President Chirac.
Former Swedish Prime Minister and now U.N. negotiator, Carl Bildt, a man who we highly respect, will also be in Washington and will meet with the Secretary on Wednesday; and the Bosnian Prime Minister, Mr. Silajdic, will be back in Washington -- this time to meet Secretary Christopher here in the Department on Wednesday morning.
Secretary Christopher missed, of course, the opportunity to meet with the Prime Minister last week because of the Secretary's travel in the Middle East.
We intend to use these meetings to carry out comprehensive discussions with each of these three gentlemen about the situation in Bosnia, about the proper role of UNPROFOR as this situation in Bosnia develops. We'll be particularly interested, of course, in President Chirac's attitudes, his views, his plans for France as the leading troop contributor in UNPROFOR and also particularly interested in the views of former Prime Minister Carl Bildt, who, as you know, is already on the job. He's had a meeting with Foreign Minister Kozyrev. He's had a series of meetings with U.N. officials, and we want to carry out some comprehensive discussions for them.
What the United States would like to see is the creation of an environment for making sure that UNPROFOR can stay in Bosnia and, as we noted at the Contact Group meetings in Noordwijk, that UNPROFOR can be strengthened.
We are seeking a negotiated settlement to this conflict. That remains the core of U.S. policy and of Contact Group policy. We would like to prevent what would be so dangerous this summer, and that would be the widening of the war in Bosnia. We are also seeking United Nations support for the French, British and Dutch initiative of a quick or rapid reaction force.
I understand from just a recent phone call this morning that UNPROFOR's role and mission and the role and mission of the quick or rapid reaction force are being discussed and debated in the U.S. Security Council this morning and this afternoon; and, as I last checked just before I came out here, Ambassador Albright was engaged in a U.N. Security Council meeting on this issue.
We certainly would like to clarify some of the remarks that we saw reported in a couple of our major papers over the weekend, attributed to U.N. officials, about UNPROFOR's mission. We are uncertain about what these remarks mean, and we're seeking clarification of these remarks.
Let me just say a final word. I've already mentioned former Prime Minister Bildt. He is a well known public figure to us here in the United States. He was a very strong partner of the United States when he was the Swedish Prime Minister. He was particularly helpful to the United States in our joint effort with Sweden and with Germany to convince the Russian Government to withdraw its military forces from the Baltic states -- the Baltic governments -- last July and August.
We intend to give former Prime Minister Bildt our full support. He will be involved and fully involved and aware of the deliberations of the Contact Group. I think it's fair to say that he will be the focal point of the diplomacy, both this week and in the weeks to come.
Q Let me follow that. Does he replace the Contact Group, because that's what Mr. Major said would be very agreeable to him.
MR. BURNS: We certainly want to talk to Mr. Bildt about how he envisages his own role. I don't think it's as neat as that, Roy. The Contact Group is going to stay in existence. It's been a very important creation, an institution, informal institution, for the major Western nations, including Russia, since the Sarajevo market bombing in February '94.
It's proven in many cases to be invaluable. Sometimes it's posed some difficulties, because we haven't always seen eye to eye within the Contact Group, but I think by and large we feel it's an institution that's got to stay in being. It's got to stay active. We would like him to be involved in the deliberations of the Contact Group.
I think it's reasonable to say, given the degree of confidence that governments have of Mr. Bildt, that he will be the focal point of diplomacy, but I don't think he'll be the sole point of diplomacy. The United States, of course, will continue to represent its own interests and carry out its own diplomacy through the Contact Group and sometimes apart from the Contact Group.
So I don't want to make a blanket statement about his role, and I think that we need to have a series of discussions with him. That has to also happen within the context of the U.N. and with other Contact Group members before we're able to say with a precise level of detail what all the arrangements are going to be.
Q Has he given you a preview of what his views are so that you have some sense of them before he arrives?
MR. BURNS: Not to my knowledge. We have received some reports about his meetings with the Russian Foreign Minister, Mr. Kozyrev, and we, of course, have been in contact with him over the last couple of days -- several days, I guess, since he's been appointed.
But Wednesday really represents our first opportunity to have the Secretary and Assistant Secretary Holbrooke and Deputy Assistant Secretary Frasure sit down with him to talk in detail about what his view of the situation is.
Q One of the ideas that's come out of his appointment is to call an all-Bosnia conference and to look at the map once again almost from scratch and start over again. I'm curious whether the Contact Group Map is still the central point of Western diplomacy or whether maybe a conference would replace it?
MR. BURNS: The Contact Group Map and Plan is still the centerpiece of Western diplomacy. It is the offer on the table that we hope the Bosnian Serbs will some day decide should be the basis of negotiations. I'm glad you brought that up, because that in fact is the focal point of our diplomacy.
In seeking a negotiated settlement, we are trying to convince Mr. Milosevic that he should use his influence with the Bosnian Serbs to convince them that it's in their interest to quickly go to the negotiating table. There is a Map and Plan. There is a full set of initiatives that is ready to be discussed. We think it's a fair point at which to start, and that remains the policy of both the United States and the Contact Group, and it has the full support of the United Nations.
Q Nick, if I could follow, there's a wire that reports that President -- or Prime Minister Jacques Chirac spoke to Milosevic today about freeing the remainder of the U.N. hostages, and apparently there was a positive response from Milosevic on that.
I would ask you this: There's also been talk around this town of punitive strikes against surface-to-air missile sites in Bosnian Serbian regions, and how can there be talk of any kind of airstrikes by NATO when there are still U.N. hostages? Point one.
Point two - question two -- is Mr. Haris Silajdzic the other day basically dodged the issue when asked about whether they were expecting a Bosnian Serb offensive or counter-offensive would not respond to that. You raised that a few minutes ago. Can you say if that is still expected, or is this war at a standstill because of the hostage situation?
MR. BURNS: Bill, that's a lot to digest but let me try. I'm unaware of any conversation between President Chirac and Mr. Milosevic this morning.
On the issue of the hostages, our policy remains firm and clear. We believe the hostages should be released immediately. There is no justification for the Bosnian Serbs to hold those people hostage.
Q But any talk of further airstrikes, punitive or otherwise -- is that sitting well?
MR. BURNS: I have nothing to say on that subject today.
Q Okay. And what about the counter-offensive of the Serbs? Is it still -- according to the State Department, is it still possible or in the works?
MR. BURNS: The Bosnian Serbs you're referring to.
Q The Bosnian --
MR. BURNS: There's been a good deal of fighting that has continued over the weekend between the Bosnian Government and the Bosnian Serb forces in and around Sarajevo but also in other parts of Bosnia proper. Near Bihac, for instance, there was a considerable amount of fighting there.
I am not privy to the battle plans of the Bosnian Serbs, so I don't want to get into predicting what they're going to do. We felt as long as three or four months ago that the cease-fire that was in place and the lull in fighting had to be maintained through the spring. It wasn't. We have been very concerned about the renewed outbreak of fighting and the prospect of a larger war -- a war that could spread.
That has been one of our primary interests since the beginning of the Bosnian conflict, to prevent the spread of the Bosnian conflict, and that remains the focal point of the diplomacy, and I think that will be an issue that we discuss on Wednesday with the three visitors whom I mentioned.
Q I take it there's still concern of a larger war within Bosnia that might spread.
MR. BURNS: Again, I'm not in a position to predict the activities of the Bosnian Serbs or the Bosnian Government -- the military activities. But, yes, in general we're very concerned about the possibility that this war could spread. Absolutely concerned about it.
Q Nick, could we get back to Roy's question about leakage at the border?
MR. BURNS: Yes. Roy, do you want to give me a specific sense of what you'd like to know?
Q Well, there's a report that Milosevic is still sending supplies to the Bosnian Serbs.
MR. BURNS: Let me just say in answer to that, I read that article over the weekend -- the same one you did. Unfortunately for you and probably fortunately for me, that article refers to intelligence sources as the crux of the information, and, of course, I'm not in a position to discuss intelligence sources or intelligence information from this podium. So I can't get into the specific allegations -- some of the specific allegations.
But I can say this: The sanctions that have been in place have not been perfect. Sanctions regimes are rarely perfect. In fact, I don't know one that has ever been perfect, that has completely closed traffic. There have undoubtedly been leakages in the sanctions.
But, having said that, these sanctions have been felt in Pale. They've been felt by the Bosnian Serbs, and they've been painful, and they were intended to be painful because of the transgressions -- the outrageous transgressions of the Bosnian Serbs.
What we are interested in doing is working with Mr. Milosevic to tighten those sanctions so that they continue to be painful. That's what Ambassador Frasure has been discussing with Mr. Milosevic, in part during his recent trips to Belgrade.
I think Betsy was first, and then Mark.
Q What about the aspect of paying for Bosnian Serb salaries -- army salaries?
MR. BURNS: I just have nothing for you on that, Betsy. I can't confirm that. I don't have any information available to me that would confirm that.
Q How about the link of the air defense in Bosnia with the air defense in Krajina and the air defense in Yugoslavia?
MR. BURNS: I simply am not in a position to confirm either way. Obviously, the quality of the relationship and the degree of contact between the Government of Belgrade and the Bosnian Serbs is a primary concern for us. That in fact was part of the reasons why we imposed sanctions on Serbia proper in the first place, and it's the heart of the issue about our offer to -- if we can ever consummate this offer -- to offer partial, limited sanctions relief to Serbia in return for recognition of Bosnia.
That's something that we monitor. It's something that we're quite interested in following closely, and I'm unable to confirm either your specific interest or Betsy's on both those counts.
Q Have there been any protests from this government or even some comment to Milosevic that there is an integrated air defense system, because it's known around this government -- (a). And (b) he therefore was in a position to monitor the repositioning of the air defense and the shooting down of that plane, and he probably could have blocked it. I mean, is there any --
MR. BURNS: "He," Milosevic?
Q "He," Milosevic. Is there any discussion with Milosevic about his role in the air defense, because it is still centered in Belgrade, from all the information I have.
MR. BURNS: Again, I want to be clear about this. I cannot confirm the reports over the weekend that there is this degree of integration and of assistance on the part of the Serbian Government with the Bosnian Serbs. I can't confirm that. I don't have any information on that.
But, Roy, obviously this has been one of the primary issues that we have had for the last three years with Mr. Milosevic. What is the degree of his relationship with the Bosnian Serbs and what is the quality and nature of that relationship. And that remains, I can assure you, of primary interest to us, and we will continue to look into it.
Q But, I mean, there are so many political implications of this intelligence information that I wonder whether it couldn't be released from the realm of the super-classified just due to the facts that exist? Because if you're talking to Milosevic on the one hand about lifting sanctions or suspending them, and meanwhile he's supervising an air defense or monitoring an air defense that is shooting down American planes, it would just seem like there's a contradiction there.
MR. BURNS: There's no contradiction from our part. As I said, we have a fundamental interest in ascertaining what the relationship is between Belgrade and the Bosnian Serbs. I'm just not in a position to discuss intelligence information. As well, I don't have information that would allow me to confirm to you this relationship that was described in the newspapers over the weekend, and that's really all I can say about this today.
Q I'm sorry to respond again, but I think that information is available in fact, and it's not just strictly limited to intelligence. I think that it's widely known within this government, and that the political implications are significant, and that it's reasonable to ask that you comment on the political implications rather than just simply labeling it as "intelligence information."
MR. BURNS: I'm actually glad to comment on the political implications. What I cannot comment on is the nature of the relationship, because I don't have sufficient information to do that. So I can't confirm the validity of the press reports.
I can certainly agree with you that the allegations have political significance, and that if the allegations were confirmed, they would have enormous political significance. Absolutely. But what I can't confirm is the events themselves and the relationship itself. I'm not in a position to do that.
Q What sort of political significance? Can you specify?
MR. BURNS: Obvious political significance. It's been our position since the beginning of this conflict that the Serbian Government ought to limit and foreclose all of its military assistance to the Bosnian Serbs, as well as economic assistance. That was why the sanctions were imposed on Serbia in the first place. As we discus, as Ambassador Frasure and others have discussed this issue with Mr. Milosevic, this has been at the heart of the matter.
Q Would you break off --
MR. BURNS: That's what the political significance is.
Q Would you break off the Frasure contact? Would you break off efforts to entice Milosevic into an agreement?
MR. BURNS: The agreement that has been outlined by Ambassador Frasure is on the table. Mr. Milosevic has to decide if he wants to take that offer and if he wants to abide by the commitments that he must make in taking that offer. That's a decision for him to make. Ambassador Frasure has spent a lot of time in Belgrade -- enough time. The offer is clear. There are no plans for Ambassador Frasure to return to Belgrade. It doesn't mean this story is ended. It doesn't mean we've taken the offer off the table. It's sitting on the table. It's there. Mr. Milosevic now has as detailed a view of the offer as Ambassador Frasure. There's no need for Ambassador Frasure to go back at this point, so he's not going to go back at this point.
Q Do you suppose Frasure could be made available to us for a backgrounder?
MR. BURNS: Is that a level of interest? (Laughter)
Q I think it would be very well attended myself.
MR. BURNS: We'll have to see. I don't know. I'll be glad to talk to him about it, but I can't -- I'm hesitant to promise anyone before I've talked with them.
Q Nick, may I ask a question about another region?
Q One more on --
MR. BURNS: Still on Bosnia, Mark, and then we'll go back. Lee, I'm sorry.
Q On the diplomatic front, are you then saying that you reject the idea and the call for a London-type conference -- a new London-type conference among the warring parties to fashion a new agreement, as suggested by Boutros-Ghali and I believe is promoted by Mr. Bildt?
MR. BURNS: Lee, I'm not sure I agree with the premise of the question. I'm certainly not in a position to reject anything of which we have very few details. We're going to use this week to talk further with former Prime Minister Bildt, with Prime Minister Silajdzic and with French President Jacques Chirac -- discuss all of these issues in detail -- and perhaps at the end of the week we will have a better sense of where things are heading. Perhaps we won't. Perhaps we'll need more conversations.
In addition to that, the United Nations continues its discussions about all these issues, but as far as I'm aware, there's no concrete suggestion on the table that we have to accept today or reject today about any kind of alternative approach or a London conference. It simply hasn't come up to the level where it has to come up in this government for us to have anything to say about it in public.
Q You suggested that the current plan is the plan and will remain the plan, which would seem to eliminate the idea of another London conference.
MR. BURNS: No, I suggested that the Contact Group map and plan is the offer on the table for the Bosnian Serbs that the Contact Group has made available, and it is the offer. There's no question about that. There's no reason for me to say anything otherwise.
You've brought up a different scenario, and I'm just saying that we have not been apprised at a senior level in this government about that scenario. I don't even know if we've been apprised at a mid- to junior- level. I just know we've been apprised at a senior level.
Q Nick, can you be a bit more precise about the clarifications you're seeking from the U.N.? Just what in their remarks leaves you so uncertain? I mean, what they say seems to be fairly clear. Do you mean the remarks took you by surprise or --
MR. BURNS: We are unclear about what these remarks mean about UNPROFOR's mission and role, particularly as it relates to the Bosnian Serbs; and, therefore, we are seeking clarification. Ambassador Albright is doing that today in New York, and that will be also part of our discussions with former Prime Minister Bildt on Wednesday. No, we are not clear about the remarks. We are unclear about the remarks.
Q So you're surprised by them, and you don't like them, would you say?
MR. BURNS: Our position has been that UNPROFOR should be strengthened. That was the position that the United States took at the Contact Group. All the members of the Contact Group agreed on that position at Noordwijk, and that remains the policy of the Contact Group and of the United States.
Q A series that began in the (Baltimore) Sun yesterday reports that during the early 1980s the United States financed, equipped and trained a Honduran battalion that was guilty of gross human rights abuses, including torture and murder, and the series also reports that then-Ambassador Negroponte, who is now the U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, personally supervised the preparation of human rights reports that portrayed the Honduran military as respecting human rights.
The first question: Will the State Department investigate the American role in the report of abuses? And, secondly, will Secretary Christopher recall Ambassador Negroponte from the Philippines or contact him to get an explanation of his conduct?
MR. BURNS: Mark, let me just step back a little bit. I don't have as much detail about the story as you do, obviously, since it did appear in the Baltimore Sun. But I can tell you that from what I understand, these events -- the article that appeared in the Baltimore Sun is about events that took place some time ago -- ten, fifteen years ago -- and I would remind you under another Administration, not under the Clinton Administration.
I also understand these allegations have surfaced before. As I think mentioned in this Sun article, the National Commissioner for the Protection of Human Rights in Honduras, Dr. Valladares, in December of 1993 issued a report on these disappearances in the 1980s -- the early 1980s. This report was entitled, "The Facts Speak for Themselves."
That report also refers to earlier public discussion of these issues. At this point we are working to give Dr. Valladares any support that we can in the ongoing investigation that is underway under his authority, and I think that's where the situation is.
As to Ambassador Negroponte, I would just say that he is one of the most distinguished members of our diplomatic corps, has had long and distinguished service to the U.S. Government, has the full support of the Department of State.
Q So are you denying his role in the preparation of human rights reports that omitted the facts?
MR. BURNS: Mark, I'm saying I have nothing for you on that particular aspect of your question. I'm just saying that we continue to have the greatest respect for Ambassador Negroponte and the greatest confidence in him.
Q Will that specific aspect of the report be investigated?
MR. BURNS: This is a Honduran investigation -- a Honduran Government investigation -- which we believe is proceeding along the right path. Questions are being asked. A distinguished individual in Honduras is asking the questions. We are giving all assistance that we can to the Honduran Government.
I don't think it's a question at this point of any kind of unilateral U.S. effort. There's an existing investigation underway. We will assist that investigation and we'll simply have to see where that investigation leads.
Q And, finally, will there be any effort by this Department, by the Secretary, or anybody else to get Ambassador Negroponte to explain his past conduct? He's basically stonewalling the press, as I understand it.
MR. BURNS: Mark, let me just lead you back again to where this investigation is taking place. It's taking place in Honduras. We are certainly ready to comply with any request -- any reasonable request that is made to us from the Honduran Government. We are assisting as much as we can the Honduran Government in this investigation. I'm not aware that anyone has asked for the type of involvement on the part of a former Ambassador that you mention, and I'd just like to reiterate our full confidence and respect for Ambassador Negroponte and for his career in the U.S. Government.
Q Could you discuss the Secretary's travel plans to Halifax and whether he is leaving early to conduct meetings with Japanese officials on the Iranian embargo?
MR. BURNS: The Secretary is going to be participating, as he always does, in the G-7 Summit -- this year at Halifax. He will be leaving a couple of hours before President Clinton. The Secretary is going to leave early Thursday morning, because he has a bilateral scheduled with Japanese Foreign Minister Kono.
The purpose of that bilateral is to discuss all of the very important -- or all of the most important issues on the U.S.-Japanese agenda. We have an extremely important relationship with Japan that entails, of course, the economic issues that are being mentioned prominently today in public -- the trade issues -- but also the political relationship.
We have a number of important political issues -- geo-political issues to discuss and, of course, our military relationship with Japan.
We have long felt that we've got to advance this relationship as much as we can, even when we do experience differences of opinion -- as we certainly have on trade -- at any given point in time. So the Secretary felt that it was important for him to go up and have this meeting.
The President will be meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister during the Summit, and the Secretary felt it was important to have a preliminary meeting with the Japanese Foreign Minister that would preview the Presidential-Prime Ministerial meeting and that would get into, perhaps, some detail on the major issues in the relationship. So he'll be going up for the purpose of that meeting. He will then join President Clinton, when the President arrives for the Halifax meetings on Thursday evening, and will be of course with President Clinton through all the scheduled meetings of the G-7.
Q The question is regarding Taiwan. It's reported that when President Lee Teng-hui was here for the private visit, he met with the executives of several major U.S. companies and signed business deals -- secret deals -- and the letter of intent to purchase l5 Boeing aircraft is probably one of them. Do you have any comment on that?
Another question: Do you have anything to report on the APEC Ministerial Meeting hosted here at the State Department?
MR. BURNS: I really don't have any comment on either question, I'm sorry. I don't have a comment on the first question; I don't have a comment on the second -- more because I've been on the road for awhile and maybe I'm not caught up on the question of an APEC meeting here. That's one we can look into for you, though.
Q One last question about President Lee's visit to this country. Now that he has completed his visit and returned to Taiwan, are you relieved that the whole trip was "private" as you stipulated?
MR. BURNS: I'm just trying to reflect on the verb.
I would just say that we are satisfied that President Lee's private and unofficial visit to the United States was consistent with the private and unofficial visa and understanding about that visa that initiated this series of events.
We're satisfied that it was a private and unofficial visit.
Q Was the good example set by him facilitate any future visits to the United States by him?
MR. BURNS: We said when we made the decision public that he would be issued a visitor's visa that we would do this on a case-by-case basis and that remains our policy.
Q Mr. Burns, as you probably know, when Senator Helms flew out to Syracuse to greet him on his arrival, Senator Helms extended an invitation for him to come to Washington for a visit. He also has a standing invitation from Georgetown University to come to Washington for a visit. When that happens, how would the Administration deal with it?
MR. BURNS: As I said, I'm unaware of any subsequent travel plans that President Lee may have. As I said, if any become apparent to us, they will be judged on a case-by-case basis.
Q You're not ruling it out?
MR. BURNS: I'm just saying they'll be judged on a case-by-case basis.
One more question?
Q The meeting of Secretary Christopher and Foreign Minister Kono, you stressed that the meeting will focus on political and military issues. Does that mean that the two will be finding some kind of way to get trade issues away from the President and Prime Minister talks?
MR. BURNS: As you know, Secretary Christopher and Foreign Minister Kono are not negotiating our trade differences. That is the preserve of other people in both of our governments -- on our side, of Ambassador Kantor. But, certainly, since that is a major issue in our relationship, it will come up in the meeting that the Secretary and Foreign Minister Kono intend to have.
The Secretary's interest here is in getting together with a man he respects very much and likes very much -- Foreign Minister Kono -- for a broad review of all the issues that lie at the heart of our relationship.
Q Sadly, I have a question on another region, but I'll try and make it brief -- a series of questions.
You invited us to ask you a question about the Middle East, so I'll take you up on it. Did the role of any U.S. troops as U.N. peacekeepers or monitors come up in any of the Secretary's discussion in the region - - which, presumably, it would -- and, in any case, what is the U.S. position on supplying peacekeepers or monitors in the Middle East should a peace agreement be reached between Israel and Syria. How would they be armed, for example? Would you be thinking of lightly-armed observers? Would you have any problems with Congress?
MR. BURNS: Since you've given me the opportunity to speak about the Middle East, with your indulgence let me just step back very briefly because I know it's late and just say that the Secretary was extremely satisfied with his trip to the region.
The Secretary believes that l995 can be the year for peace in the Middle East -- the year in which a comprehensive peace that has alluded the parties for 50 years can be achieved. He bases that on the highly productive meeting that he had with Prime Minister Rabin and President Mubarak in Cairo on Friday, where it's very clear now that Egypt and Israel are prepared to put aside their differences of the last few months and engage together in creating the kind of environment necessary for a comprehensive peace.
Secondly, the Secretary had excellent meetings with Foreign Minister Peres, with Prime Minister Rabin, and with Chairman Arafat. The meeting with Chairman Arafat was in Jericho yesterday morning. On the Palestinian-Israeli track, they have a number of very serious and difficult issues to negotiate together. They've made great progress on the elections issue. They need to make more progress on some of the other issues -- of authority and redeployment, and so forth.
Third, in the Secretary's trip to Damascus, he sensed once again that President Assad has made a strategic choice for peace. That was evident in the discussions that the Secretary had on Saturday afternoon in Syria -- evident in the commentary of the Syrian press, which was very good and pleasing to see. And, as you know, the Secretary was able to announce that as a result of his conversations with Prime Minister Rabin and President Assad, there will be the recommencement of security- level talks here in Washington, D.C., under U.S. auspices, on June 27th. These will encompass the Chiefs of Staff of the Syrian and Israeli military forces.
Now, finally, I would just say that the Secretary always stops in Amman on these trips. He had an excellent meeting with His Majesty King Hussein. The Secretary told him, privately and announced publicly, that the United States stands by its commitment to try to achieve, through one legislative vehicle or another this year, debt forgiveness for Jordan.
If you sum all of that up, we think we are in a position now to use our influence in a very active and intensive way to help the parties achieve progress on all the tracks and to help in this historic quest for a comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
And now to your specific question: In answer to your specific question, I can tell you that the parties have not reached that level of detail. There has not been a specific request of which I am aware for any kind of U.S. military engagement or participation as part of a final agreement on the very sensitive and difficult issue of the Golan Heights. We have long said, from the President on down, that should it come to that, should we be asked, we would certainly consider it very seriously; and that serious level of commitment that we would bring to that question is consistent with the commitment that this Administration has brought to the issue of Middle East peace in general.
This is one of the most vital foreign policy objectives of the United States. Secretary Christopher has made l3 trips to the region, and he's fully prepared to make a l4th once we believe that that kind of visit will be helpful to the process.
Q And would you see those as lightly-armed monitors or would you see them as more fully-equipped peacekeepers should this come about? And do you think Congress will see the wisdom of committing U.S. troops in whatever capacity?
MR. BURNS: Lee, as I said, we have not been asked to contribute troops. That may be something that we are asked to do in the future. So I am certainly not in a position to identify what the nature of any hypothetical participation would be.
As for your last question, there has been a historic commitment, which has been bipartisan, to a peace in the Middle East; and we are confident that both the Executive and Legislative Branches in the United States will do whatever we can, and whatever we should do, to help the parties achieve a Middle East peace. We have a very strong commitment to that.
Q One of the things in the press coverage of the Secretary's visit was the discussion about the Mideast Development Bank. There will be this big summit in Amman in October. Can you tell us anything about the details -- what was discussed on that and how it looks for the setting up of this Bank?
MR. BURNS: There was a very long discussion at lunch with His Majesty the King and the Crown Prince Hassan yesterday in Amman about the economic conference that will take place in October, and a very detailed discussion about the Middle East Development Bank, about a lot of the other elements that we have planned for the conference with the parties to make it a success.
I might just add in that that this is not just a question of what governments can do. We're committed to trying to establish a Middle East Development Bank. It's also a question of what we can do -- and what the parties can do, more importantly -- to get the private sector involved. We expect that there will be up to 500 CEOs of corporations from all around the world in Amman for this conference.
A great deal of work needs to be done to make it a success. It is now one of the highest priority issues in the U.S.-Jordanian agenda, and indeed with all the Arab countries that were participants at the Casablanca Conference -- and also with Israel.
Q Thank you.
(The press briefing concluded at 2:34 p.m.)
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