U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/06/20 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Tuesday, June 20, 1995 Briefer: Robert Gelbard Nicholas Burns INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS/LAW ENFORCEMENT Assistant Secretary Robert Gelbard's Trip to SE Asia .....1-10 --Counter-Narcotics Efforts in Burma .....................4-5 --Reduction of Corruption in Thai Army ...................5-6 --Alternative Development Projects in Andean Region ......6 --Nigerian Trafficking Organizations .....................7 --Anti-Drug Efforts in Colombia ..........................6-10 --Indications of Japanese Org'd. Crime Involvement in Drugs ................................................9 DEPARTMENT Introduction of Press Office Intern Marie Witting ........10 CUBA Robert Vesco Case ........................................10-12 VIETNAM Report of Vietnamese President Visit to UNGA .............12 IRAQ Operation Provide Comfort/Kurdish Population .............12-13 Report of Purge of Iraqi Army Personnel ..................13 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Russian Ambassador Churkin's Activities in Region ........13-15 U.S. Troops in Macedonia .................................18-19 Secretary Christopher's Mtg. with FM Sacirbey of Bosnia ..21,25 --Military Situation on the Ground .......................21 --Future Diplomacy .......................................21 --UNPROFOR/Rapid Reaction Force ..........................21 U.S. Support for UNPROFOR/Rapid Reaction Force/Funding ...21-27 Senator Nunn's Suggestion for Deadline for Talks .........24-26 Deny Flight Operation--Rotation of Forces ................28 JAPAN U.S./Japan Trade Issues ..................................15-16 CHINA Report of Sale of Missile Components to Iran .............16 U.S.-China Relations/High-Level Consultations ............16-17 NORTH KOREA/SOUTH KOREA Rice Negotiations in Beijing .............................17 Report of Request for North Korean Ambassador's Travel ...17-18 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Israeli-Syrian Security Talks ............................18 CYPRUS ISLANDS Violations of UN Embargo Against Serbia ..................28-29
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, JUNE 20, 1995, 12:42 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. It's my great pleasure to have with us today Assistant Secretary of State Robert Gelbard. Bob has just returned from a trip to Southeast Asia where he visited many key countries that are affected by heroin production and abuse. He will talk about his trip and then answer your questions. He, of course, is also prepared to answer questions on the capture and detainment of some of the Cali cartel drug traffickers. Bob, it's a pleasure to have you here.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GELBARD: Good afternoon. Before I take your questions, I would like to make a brief statement on this just completed two-week trip to Southeast Asia. I was accompanied on this visit by Steve Green, Deputy Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration. From June 2-15, we visited Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Hong Kong and discussed the narcotics situation and our counternarcotics efforts with senior government officials in all these countries.
My visit highlighted for me the regional nature of the Asian drug problem. What was previously treated basically as a Burma and Thailand problem has now evolved into a issue that threatens all the countries in the region. Trafficking routes have spread like a cancer to all these countries. China now rivals Thailand as a passage for the transshipment of Burmese heroin. As law enforcement efforts improved in Thailand, neighboring states of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia have all experienced an alarming growth in drug trafficking, and are seriously concerned about the domestic abuse problems that inevitably follow.
An incident that took place during my visit graphically illustrated the global nature of the heroin threat. Thai authorities seized three SAM-7 missiles destined for Khun Sa's Shan United Army in Burma. The missiles apparently came from Cambodia and were paid for with 3.5 kilograms of Khun Sa's heroin. One of the brokers for the deal, according to the Thai police, who was arrested by Thai authorities, was a West African.
Each country we visited is at a unique stage of sophistication in addressing the problems of narcotics production, use, and trafficking. All recognize, however, the seriousness of the problem and seem eager to cooperate with the United States and the international community to tackle it. We have some opportunity here, and I plan to work closely with other appropriate agencies of our government and regional and international organizations to ensure a coordinated approach throughout the region.
In Vietnam, I was impressed by the government's awareness of the narcotics problem and by its political commitment to address it. There is already excellent working cooperation between DEA and Vietnamese law enforcement officials. Both sides are committed to broadening that cooperation. Vietnam has now drafted counternarcotics legislation, and we are prepared at their request to provide expert advice and assistance in reviewing it.
We anticipate providing training and other counternarcotics assistance both bilaterally and through the United Nations Drug Control Program in the areas of demand reduction and law enforcement. A U.S. Customs team will visit Vietnam tomorrow to conduct a needs assessment, and we anticipate a DEA training team will conduct a similar survey soon.
Our oldest counternarcotics program in Asia is in Thailand. Our focus there now is on law enforcement, and the cooperation on counternarcotics between our two governments and law enforcement agencies has been truly outstanding. The arrest late last year of ten major drug traffickers associated with the Shan United Army is the best example of this. Senior Thai Government officials told me that they hope to extradite these individuals to the United States in the near future to face trial on major heroin smuggling charges. The Thai courts also are seriously considering our extradition request for a former member of Parliament wanted in the United States for smuggling shiploads of marijuana. We are also pleased by the efforts of the Royal Thai Government and their Army to seal the border with Burma to constrict the flow of supplies going to the Shan United Army.
There are some encouraging trends in Laos. Opium production has steadily declined over the past five years. This is due in part to the success of alternative development projects undertaken by the United States, by the UN, and other donors in ethnic minority opium producing areas. While weather has been a major factor and we remain concerned about a possible rebound this year in opium production, the long-term trend has been positive.
While in Laos, I visited the Lao-American alternative development project in remote Houaphan Province near the Vietnamese and Chinese border. We have constructed roads, small dams for irrigation and hydro- electricity, health care clinics, and other facilities to bring the nomadic hill tribe people down from the mountains where they slash and burn the forest to grow opium, and move into the valleys where they can grow rice and other crops. These programs have really achieved their goal.
Commercial production of opium has essentially been eliminated in our project area, which until recently had been a major producing region. UN Drug Control Program projects have experienced similar success. However, to achieve our goals of completely eliminating commercial opium production, we and other donors need to sustain our assistance.
In the area of law enforcement, there have also been encouraging developments. The special Lao police anti-narcotics unit, which we helped establish, train, and fund, has recently had a number of notable successes. However, Laos needs to increase its penalties for drug trafficking -- the current maximum is five years -- if it wants to avoid becoming a haven for traffickers. Laos also needs to become a party to the U.N. conventions on narcotics control.
In Cambodia, there are indications that narcotics trafficking is an increasingly significant problem as Thai law enforcement efforts and capabilities have improved and traffickers have shifted to new routes.
During our visit, I met with most of the senior leadership of the country, including both Prime Ministers. All the officials expressed their eagerness to cooperate with us on narcotics control. However, Cambodia has currently virtually no counternarcotics capability. Narcotics trafficking is not even yet a crime in Cambodia. When drugs are discovered, there is no laboratory to analyze them.
U.S. Customs has already provided some training and DEA started last week to conduct its first basic law enforcement training course there. We are prepared to provide advice and assistance on legislation and help with drug testing and other equipment to the extent we can.
While I did not visit China on this trip, I did briefly visit Hong Kong and I paid an extensive visit to China last year. Counternarcotics cooperation with Hong Kong has been truly outstanding and we continue to work closely on all aspects of the issue with the Hong Kong authorities.
We would like to see a greater degree of counternarcotics cooperation with China. Clearly, China has a very serious narcotics problem and it has taken some stringent measures to deal with it. Over the past several years, more heroin has been seized by China than in any other country in the region, and narcotics traffickers caught there are dealt with severely. Despite the strict measures adopted by Chinese authorities, we would like to see our counternarcotics cooperation with China broadened and enhanced. For example, the exchange of timely information on drug trafficking investigations needs to be improved.
I'll be happy to take your questions at this point.
Q You just barely mentioned Burma.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GELBARD: That's because I didn't go to Burma.
Q Well, I mean, then it begs the question as to why did you not go there? Is the policy not to engage the Burmese?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GELBARD: No. In fact, we have several aspects of growing cooperation or efforts, I should say, in Burma. We are working through the U.N. Drug Control Program to support their efforts, particularly aimed at eradication of opium poppy production through the development of alternative development projects in the ethnic minority areas; and we are looking right now at new projects that the U.N. is in the process of putting together.
I talked in Thailand to the regional office of the U.N. Drug Control Program about these projects that they want to develop, and we have a strong interest in participating in a very important way, as we have currently -- I'd emphasize that -- as we currently are doing in Burma, looking at the reduction and elimination of opium poppy production in these ethnic minority areas.
We also have a certain degree of law enforcement cooperation currently. We'd like to expand it. There is a problem, of course, in Burma, because of numerous stories of drug corruption at the mid and high levels. We have told the SLORC -- the State Law and Order Restoration Council -- that we certainly feel it is critical to be able to have an effect both on the production of the opium crop as well as on actual drug trafficking, but they need to show in the first instance that they are serious about this.
So, no, we are not avoiding that in the slightest. We calculate that approximately 60 percent of the heroin that comes into the United States at least comes from Burma, so we cannot deal with this problem seriously without treating it in Burma itself, just as we try in Latin America to deal with source countries. So, there's no question about that. DEA does operate in Burma, and we try to really affect the ability of drug trafficking organizations to operate there.
Q Can you say what's the bottom line? My understanding is last year this Administration decided to try to re-engage the junta on a political level because you thought you could be more -- or somebody thought you could get more cooperation on drugs -- on a drug program. Are you finding that that has worked?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GELBARD: As you well know, there has been, unfortunately, real resistance on the part of the SLORC to human rights reforms, to political reforms leading to democracy, but we also feel quite strongly that it's quite fundamentally in our interests and in the interests of the world community to at the same time be able to pursue a strong counternarcotics agenda, and we don't see that the two are contradictory in the slightest.
Q So you're satisfied with the degree of cooperation at least on the drug side?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GELBARD: We'd like to see more, of course, and we feel it's -- as I just said -- it's up to the SLORC to demonstrate, given their reputation, that they are indeed serious about the elimination of drug trafficking organizations in their country.
One of our concerns, for example, is we keep hearing, and we're looking into this, that there has been a significant increase in opium production even in government-controlled areas, not just in the ethnic minority areas that are outside their control. If they are serious, they should be able to affect that production and reduce it. So we certainly want to see them do that.
Q Mr. Secretary, are you satisfied now that the Thai -- senior elements of the Thai military are no longer involved in the drug business?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GELBARD: There's been a very important and positive change, certainly since my last visit to Thailand about a year and a half ago, in that we see the Third Army in the northwest of Thailand really having shown much greater efforts to prevent both the entry into Burma, particularly in the Shan area, and the outflow of critical material to help Khun Sa and the Shan United Army -- in the first instance, food, other kinds of supplies, precursor chemicals going in -- weapons -- and also money and drugs coming out.
There do persist some stories about corruption in the army. We are concerned about it, but the improvement has been dramatic, and I said that while I was in Thailand -- very, very positive improvement. We really attribute this particularly to General Wimon who is the head of the army, who's done an outstanding job on this.
Q Isn't there a tentative development program also in the Andean region at some point like the ones you have in the Asian region?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GELBARD: We have had alternative development projects in the Andean region for many years. We have, for example, in Bolivia invested something like $200 million alone in the Chapare region in Bolivia. We currently have an alternative development program in Peru in the Upper Huallaga.
So this is where we started doing it. Both the amounts and the size of the projects we have in Southeast Asia are much smaller compared to what we have in Latin America. What I would hope to see, both in Latin America and in Southeast Asia as well as in South Asia, is now that the World Bank, and in Latin America the Inter-American Development Bank, has stated their willingness to finance such programs. I'd certainly like to see and our government would like to see those governments walk in the door of those institutions and finance such programs, but they haven't done it so far.
Q How about in Colombia? Is there anything specific with Colombia?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GELBARD: I know the Government of Colombia has started talking about that and has begun to talk to the international community about it. Given the situation in Colombia, we are not prepared, as I have told the Government of Colombia, including President Samper, we're not in a position to fund such programs, but we have offered to support them in the World Bank and in the Inter-American Development Bank as well as with other donors.
But our primary commitment has been in Bolivia and Peru which we consider to be the two fundamental largest producers of coca leaf in the world.
Q Have you seen any evidence of any Middle Eastern terrorist groups being active in that part of the world in terms of buying or distributing drugs?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GELBARD: I'm not aware of any. It wouldn't surprise me, but what we're more concerned about are Nigerian trafficking organizations which are extremely active and increasingly active in Southeast Asia. A year and a half ago when I was in Thailand, I was told by the Acting Foreign Minister that there was some 350 Nigerian citizens in jail for drug trafficking. This last visit he told me that there were over 500.
They have arrested Nigerians for drug trafficking in Laos and in Cambodia. Increasingly, since obviously the authorities in all these countries are beginning to look for Nigerians, they're using other kinds of passports or they're beginning to recruit couriers from other nations.
This is a major worldwide problem, and the Nigerian trafficking organizations have been something that the United States Government and other governments have targeted with great seriousness now, which is one reason why Nigeria is decertified.
Q Any specific groups as couriers attracted your attention? Any prominent groups?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GELBARD: Nigerians.
Q And besides Nigerians?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GELBARD: Those organizations have been the principal ones. There have been, of course, out of Southwest Asia -- out of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan -- other trafficking groups that have traditionally been linked to terrorist organizations.
Q Mr. Gelbard, coming a little closer, could you update us on the arrests in Colombia, and perhaps touch on the progress that is being made to counter the cartels in Mexico -- the narco-subversionists there, and then finally --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GELBARD: You better stop there for a minute.
Q Okay. I'll follow-up.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GELBARD: First, I was in Colombia three weeks ago, just shortly before I went to Southeast Asia, and had what was basically, I think, an extremely productive visit -- meetings with President Samper, the Minister of Defense, the police, the Prosecutor General, Mr. Valdivieso, and others.
We feel that the Colombian Government has made very important progress since March 1. The progress includes steps involving, obviously, the arrest of Gilberto Rodrigues-Orejuela, although that hadn't occurred when I was there. But what had occurred was a dramatic increase in the pressure brought to bear on the so-called Cali Cartel by the Colombian police. That pressure has clearly paid off in the capture of Gilberto Rodrigues-Orejuela, and now the surrender of Henry Loaiza.
The pressure has been kept up. We have been supporting the Colombian police and their other organizations. We continue to support them. We feel it's very positive.
Other steps that show their progress include some extremely impressive results in eradication of both opium, poppy, and coca; control of San Andres Island, which has been a major jumping-off point for drug traffickers as a transit point for cocaine going north and money going south, and in a few other areas.
We still feel there's a lot to do. I think the Colombian Government itself recognizes that, as I discussed with Defense Minister Botero last Friday. There still needs to be an asset seizure law so the drug traffickers, when they're convicted, do have their assets seized. There needs to be some fundamental criminal code reform to improve and increase the minimum sentences for drug traffickers -- a variety of other areas that really need some work. The Colombian Government, I think, does recognize that; but there clearly has been some very important progress.
Q If I could follow for just a moment. What I was getting at was the influence of Cali cartels and the Mexican cartels in this country, their primary market. There's been some disturbing reports in the Los Angeles Times just last week by Mr. Sebastian Rotella that the Arellano Felix gang from Tijuana, I believe, is responsible for some corruption of the U.S. Customs (1), and also attempting to infiltrate the southern district of the U.S. District Court that was alleged.
Are they applying the same tactics that they apply in Colombia and Mexico to gain political power now? Are they applying those tactics in the USA?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GELBARD: Our government is always deeply concerned with corruption. As we well know, drug trafficking produces a tremendous amount of illegal money which can and does produce corruption.
It is the clear and very strong policy of the United States Government to try to root out that corruption wherever we find it, which is why, according to those -- at least, the version of the articles that I read, and I certainly would never question the Los Angeles Times -- the United States Government is involved in investigations right now.
We have done that in a variety of places. We continue to do that.
Q Is there an increase in this attempt to pervert our legal system and our law enforcement?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GELBARD: I'm not aware of that.
Q Back to Asia. What role do you see as the Japanese organized criminal groups playing in the financing organization and shipment of drugs from Southeast Asia? Do you see Japan at all playing a role as a transshipment point?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GELBARD: There have been indications -- some fairly significant indications -- of Japanese organized crime involved in this in a variety of ways. We've seen, interestingly, some shipments of cocaine to Japan. There's a fairly significant amount of amphetamines produced in Southeast Asia shipped to Japan. That's a drug which is used quite a bit in Japan, as well as heroin. So they are a factor. It's hard to say how large a factor right now.
Q Back to Colombia, do you think President Samper has vindicated himself now in the Administration's eyes as far as previous allegations of drug corruption?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GELBARD: What we have always been interested in, and what we remain interested in, are results. Our concern before was the lack of progress on the part of the Colombian Government in going after, capturing, convicting the drug organizations which account for some 80 percent of the cocaine on this planet. There's still a lot to be done.
Capturing Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela was a very important first step. It's going to be very important to see in his case, as well in the case of anybody else who may either be captured or surrender, that they receive sentences commensurate with their crimes; that they forfeit their assets; that they're put into real prisons.
A lot of this is going to involve some fundamental judicial reform, as I mentioned earlier -- some fundamental reform of the criminal code. We look to President Samper and his government to continue to make serious progress based on the excellent start they've made over the last couple of months.
Q Is Colombia getting any closer to getting fully certified next year?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GELBARD: I wouldn't pretend to speak for the President of the United States.
(Following Assistant Secretary Gelbard, Spokesman Nicholas Burns continued the briefing at 1:07 p.m.)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Before we resume with the normal part of our briefing, let me just take the opportunity to introduce to you Marie Witting. Marie is a college senior attending Purdue University at Calumet. Her expected date of graduation is December 1995 with a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and a minor in History. She is an intern this summer with the Press Office. She is available to respond to any questions you have or any requests that you have. We're just delighted to have you with us, Marie. Welcome.
With that, I'll be very glad to go to whatever questions you have.
Q Have you heard from the Cubans concerning Mr. Vesco?
MR. BURNS: We have heard. Since it became known to us that there was at least the possibility that Mr. Vesco is in some trouble in Cuba, we have made very clear to the Cuban Government that we would like him to be returned to the United States.
I understand that last evening representatives of our Interests Section in Havana met with the Cuban Government, and our representatives were informed that the Cuban Government will not return Mr. Vesco to the United States.
We very much regret this decision. We've informed the government of Cuba that we remain interested in Mr. Vesco's return to face prosecution in the United States. The crimes with which Mr. Vesco is charged in the United States involve very serious violations of United States law that need to be tried in the United States.
Q What about consular access?
MR. BURNS: As you know, when Americans are jailed overseas, and Mr. Vesco is an American citizen, we normally request consular access to see them. That is one of the responsibilities that American embassies and American consulates have. In this case, we have indeed requested consular access to Mr. Vesco. We are awaiting a reply from the Cubans on that.
Q What reason did they give?
MR. BURNS: The reason for denying consular access?
Q No, for denying --
MR. BURNS: What reason was given to us? I don't have much detail on the particular conversation that took place last night, Judd. I just know that in response to our request that Mr. Vesco be made available for a return to the United States we were informed that would not be the case, and we have informed the Cuban Government that we're disappointed by this decision.
Q What are the charges he's facing in Cuba?
MR. BURNS: I don't. I can't speak to that. If you just go on public comments alone, it's unclear whether or not he will be charged with any particular crime in Cuba. We'll just have to wait and see what decision the Cuban Government makes on that.
Q Roughly, what timeframe did the Clinton Administration ask -- let the Cubans know they would be interested in the extradition of Mr. Vesco?
MR. BURNS: Sid, as I understand it, when it became apparent to us just two weeks ago that Mr. Vesco was in some hot water apparently in Cuba, we made known our request to the Cuban Government that he be returned to the United States. I don't have any information on any conversations that may have taken place before that time.
MR. BURNS: That's right. Another subject.
Q Do you know at what level these talks were yesterday? Was this the head of the Interests Section in Cuba? Was it with Mr. Alarcon? Who was it?
MR. BURNS: I don't have any information on the Cuban individual involved. I assume it was with the head of our Interests Section in Havana.
Q Will the President and/or the Secretary be seeing the Vietnamese President when he comes to New York for UNGA?
MR. BURNS: Carol, we've just seen the press reports that the Vietnamese President may be interested in a trip to the U.N. General Assembly this September-October for the 50th Anniversary of the U.N. I'm not aware that we have had any contact with the Vietnamese on a particular meeting here in the United States. I'm not aware that we've had any request for a meeting with the Vietnamese.
As you know, that kind of a meeting would assume a certain level of diplomatic relations that we have not yet attained with the Government of Vietnam. We have Liaison Offices open here in Washington. The Vietnamese have an office; we have an office in Hanoi.
We do have some cooperation with the Government of Vietnam. Bob Gelbard has just told you about our narcotics cooperation. We remain interested in the core American interest in our relationship with Vietnam as to ascertain as best we can the fullest accounting of the POW/MIAs. That situation remains up front and center and at the top of our agenda with Vietnam.
Q Just to follow up on that, though. Are you unaware of a request from Vietnam for this kind of visit, because you didn't ask or because somebody -- we haven't been talking to the Vietnamese about this issue? There's been a lot of contacts lately. Why aren't you aware if this exists?
MR. BURNS: I'm simply unaware that the Vietnamese have approached us and (a) told us that their President may be coming to the United States. I'm not aware that they have told us that officially through the Liaison Office. I'm also not aware that they've requested any particular meeting with our senior leadership here. I don't have any information for you on that. I'm not sure the request has been made.
Q The former French Ambassador to Turkey released some statement -- his report about the Middle East. He claimed that most of the Western countries want to see an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq.
My question is, when you touch with your Western allies, did you get this kind of impression? Do you have any change in your Middle East or northern Iraq policy?
MR. BURNS: There is no change in our policy towards Iraq or that portion of Iraq which includes northern Iraq.
As you know, since the end of the Gulf war in March-April 1991, the United States now through two Administrations has supported and recognized the territorial integrity of Iraq. We certainly don't believe -- having said that -- that Saddam Husayn, based on his own activities at the end of the Gulf war, the abhorrent activities that he undertook in regards to the Kurdish population in the north, can be responsible or should be responsible for the welfare of the people in northern Iraq. That's why we have consistently supported "Operation Provide Comfort."
We were very pleased to see the Turkish Government decide last week that it would extend "Operation Provide Comfort." That remains our core interest in northern Iraq, to provide protection for the Kurdish populations of northern Iraq, and that will remain the basis of United States policy.
Now to speak more broadly, I'm not aware that there are any Western countries who favor an independent state -- at least, none of our major allies -- of Kurdistan. That's certainly not the direction in which our own policy is leading us.
Q Do you have any information to confirm that Iraq is conducting a purge of army personnel following the incident last week outside of Baghdad?
MR. BURNS: Ron, I've seen the report; I've seen the press reports on that. I don't believe at this point we have any independent confirmation of those activities.
Q Nick, do you have any comment on Ambassador Churkin's travels -- Belgrade, Pale, back to Belgrade, etc. -- besides what you see in press reports? Are there any Russian-American communiques that you would like to share with us?
MR. BURNS: That I'd like to share with you?
Q I'm sure you wouldn't like to share the communiques. But can you tell us anything about the U.S. Government's view of his travels?
MR. BURNS: Ambassador Churkin is a very active diplomat with a lot of experience in the Balkans. He has been in the Balkans for the last two days. We understand that he's had meetings with Mr. Milosevic and with the Bosnian Serb leadership in Pale.
We were not informed of his trip before he took it, and we do not now have any detailed briefing on the substantive contents of his trip.
Needless to say, we have a very close relationship with the Russian Government. We understand that Ambassador Churkin's trip is not being carried out in the context of Russia's membership in the Contact Group. You might then see it as a bilateral effort by the Russian Government to have diplomatic contacts in the area.
As I mentioned yesterday, part of Russia's value as a member of the Contact Group is that it can carry on discussions with the Serbian leadership in Belgrade and in Pale in a way that perhaps some of the other countries -- including the United States, at least with the Bosnian Serbs -- cannot. Therefore, we do look forward to a full briefing from Ambassador Churkin on his activities. We expect that to take place, and we expect the continued close coordination with the Russian Government on this issue.
Q Can I follow up on that? You said yesterday and you said again today that you expect a full briefing from the Russians. The fact that you are emphasizing this so much publicly suggests that you have some doubt that you will actually get this full briefing, particularly since you weren't told in advance.
So how close a relationship can you have with the Russians if they're off on their own?
MR. BURNS: We have a very close relationship and a good relationship. Forgive me if I've misled anyone in the room. We are absolutely confident that we will receive a full and detailed briefing from our friends in Moscow. I wouldn't at all be surprised if that's done at the ministerial level. If it's not, I'm sure it will be done with Jim Collins or Dick Holbrooke or Bob Frasure, the leading officials on our side who have responsibility both for the relationship with Russia and for the relationship with the Bosnian problem. We're not at all concerned about that.
The Contact Group operates as a unit. As I've said before, the Contact Group has not been perfectly cohesive over the last year. There have been a number of occasions where we've had some tactical differences with the Russian Government.
In recent weeks, however, we've had very fine coordination with them. It is not unusual for a member of the Contact Group to have its own bilateral contacts in the area.
Let me give you an example, Bob Frasure's missions: Some of them have been American missions, some of them have been carried out with the encouragement and, indeed, under the aegis of the Contact Group. They have varied.
If Mr. Churkin can produce movement on the diplomatic track that would be beneficial towards our objective, which is a diplomatic settlement, a political settlement, then we would very much support that. But we have no doubts that we'll be getting a full briefing. When we do, I'll be in a position to talk about that.
Q But even when Frasure did bilateral stuff, didn't you alert the other Contact Group countries beforehand?
MR. BURNS: Sometimes because of the pace of events, frankly, in the past, we have not been able to alert ahead of time all of our friends and allies in the region. We've certainly made an attempt, as soon as we could, to let them know what was happening and to give a full readout afterwards.
There is a certain measure of trust here that you have to assume, and that we are assuming. Again, we look forward to talking to Ambassador Churkin when he emerges from the Balkans.
Q Do the sanctions recently announced in the automobile and aviation areas against Japan represent an unfortunate turning point in U.S.-Japan relations? And, does Ambassador Mondale's attempt to come up with a compromise on the automobile dispute represent an attempt by this Department to salvage that relationship from the damage it might sustain from initiation of sanctions?
MR. BURNS: It is certainly true that with the two very high profile trade disputes underway in public that this is not an easy time in U.S.-Japan relations. But having said that, this relationship is of great importance to both countries. Both countries recognize that.
The President and Prime Minister had a very good meeting in Halifax. Secretary Christopher and Minister Kono also had a good meeting and they saw each other at several other points along the way on the margin of the Halifax meetings. They had a good phone conversation yesterday about these issues and other issues.
I know that Secretary Christopher believes that this relationship is and will continue to be among the most important that the United States has with any country in the world. Beyond the very serious issues that are involved in these trade disputes -- and the United States believes they're serious issues that require resolution -- we also have a major security, political, and economic relationship with Japan that stands on its own merits.
No one is interested in seeing this relationship decline or suffer. We have every reason to try to work very hard to make sure that the relationship is on an even keel and that it prospers in the future, and that is our expectation.
Q Is the Administration investigating reports that China is selling missile components to Iran in violation of the Missile Technology Control Regime?
MR. BURNS: Sid, I don't have any specific information on that particular issue.
Let me just take you back a little bit to the Secretary's last meeting with Foreign Minister Qian, which was April 17 in New York, when the issue of Iran and China's relationship with Iran, in general, did come up. At that time we made very clear publicly our concern with any future nuclear energy cooperation and nuclear technology cooperation between China and Iran. We hope very much to continue to work productively with the Chinese Government on that issue.
But your specific question, I just don't have any information for you on that today.
Q Have the Chinese agreed to or declined to receive Peter Tarnoff or high-level consultations?
MR. BURNS: As I mentioned yesterday, the United States has a continuing, strong interest in diplomatic contacts at a very high level with the Chinese Government, and we will work towards that end.
We are also undergoing a rough patch in our relations with China, produced by the decision by our government to issue a visa for a private visit to President Lee.
We are convinced that the U.S.-China relationship will go on. We're convinced that we have a lot that needs to be discussed at a high level between both countries. We have made it very clear that we would like to see these periodic high-level meetings that do take place at the Under Secretary level here in the United States and the Vice Foreign Minister level in China.
We are looking for an agreement on a date and venue for those talks, but I have no further information as to when and where those talks will be held.
Q (Inaudible) South and North Korea have resolved almost the rice negotiations? Do you think that deal represents (inaudible) over internal trade?
MR. BURNS: You're referring to the reports of a rice deal between North and South Korea? We have seen press reports regarding negotiations in Beijing for a humanitarian shipment of South Korean grain to North Korea.
We fully support and encourage direct contacts between North and South Korea, and we hope that these particular negotiations will be concluded successfully. I am not aware that they have been concluded successfully, at least at the time of this briefing.
When Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Hubbard was in Kuala Lumpur, he urged North Korea to resume a dialogue with South Korea -- with the Republic of Korea -- because it is essential not only to the full implementation of the Agreed Framework, we think it's essential to continuing our effort to build a future of peace on the Korean Peninsula. We very much support these contacts and this dialogue between the North and the South.
Q You again referred to press reports. You have no independent confirmation in your relations with the South Koreans that such a discussion is underway?
MR. BURNS: Oh, no. I can confirm that the discussions are underway. I can't confirm that the discussions have been concluded in an agreement. I was just trying to be a little bit careful there.
We understand from our contacts with the Republic of Korea that the negotiations are underway. We're not aware that they've been finished successfully. That's all.
More on this issue -- on Korea?
Q A San Francisco conference organization invited Ambassador Pak Gil Yon in New York to attend the meeting. Have you got any application for leaving New York for Mr. Pak Gil Yon?
MR. BURNS: I'm sorry. I missed the name of the Ambassador.
Q Pak Gil Yon, the North Korean Ambassador to the United Nations.
MR. BURNS: And the question is?
Q Have you got any application for leaving the New York area to attend the conference in San Francisco?
MR. BURNS: I don't have any information for you on that. I can certainly check on that.
Q There's a report out of Paris -- a newspaper in Paris -- that Israel and Syria have secretly concluded a peace deal and that everything else is just curtain dressing? Can you comment on that report?
MR. BURNS: I have no information that would corroborate that particular report. My information is that as a result of the Secretary's very successful trip to the Middle East ten days ago, we are now about to convoke under the aegis of the United States -- the auspices of the United States Government -- very important high-level talks between Syria and Israel at the level of the Chief-of-Staff of Military Forces.
The Secretary is working hard to prepare for those talks, as is Ambassador Dennis Ross and others. In our view, that's the next step on the Syrian-Israeli track.
Q Just for the record, the Administration has no information whatsoever that Israel and Syria have secretly concluded a peace deal? Because it has happened in the past without us knowing about it.
MR. BURNS: That's correct, Sid. We have no information to that effect; that's right.
Q Go back to Bosnia for a second? With the situation as you have said from the podium "at a critical point and very fluid right now," I was wondering if you could discuss for a moment the role of the 500-or-so Americans who are in Macedonia or the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Are they staying? Are they being beefed up? What is their role at this point? Are they on alert? Would they be pulled out? Several questions like that.
MR. BURNS: Several easy questions like that. Thank you, Steve. I knew we'd get to the Balkans sooner or later.
As you know, there are approximately, at any one time, 540/550 American troops in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia with the U.N. Preventative Deployment Force.
The mission of our troops is to observe and report on incidents along the northern border of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia with Serbia. The presence of U.S. troops is both a stabilizing factor and a deterrent against Serb adventurism in the region.
We believe these troops and the U.N. mission there have been instrumental in helping us achieve one of our primary objectives in the conflict in the Balkans, and that is to limit the conflict -- limit the spread of war. Since we were concerned a number of years ago about the possible spread of the conflict to the Macedonian region, we decided that it was incumbent upon us to help the United Nations prevent the spread of that conflict.
We have no reason now to change or alter the mission of the U.N. force in any way. We certainly intend to keep the American troops there. We have done this with Congressional support. It enjoys continuing support both within our own government and from the Congress.
I think, at least to date, it has been one of the few successes, frankly, that the West can point to in the Balkan region.
As we have looked at the landscape of the Balkans over the last couple of months, we've been concerned about many things. But one of the main concerns that we've had is that the increase -- the intensification -- in the fighting in Bosnia and in Croatia might lead to an increase in the fighting elsewhere in the Balkans. That points particular towards the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. We want to prevent that from happening, so the troops will stay.
Q Also on Macedonia.
MR. BURNS: Also on Macedonia. Fine.
Q Can you explain that a little bit more? How the intensification of fighting in Bosnia could lead to war in Macedonia, given that the conflict in Macedonia is very different; it's primarily between Albanians and Macedonian Slavs and Serbia is not really a big presence there, the problem of what you call "Serbian adverturism" has never been what has contributed to the instability in Macedonia? It's rather between ethnic Albanians and Macedonians.
MR. BURNS: There are certainly ethnic problems that have been at the forefront of the basic conflict within Macedonia itself. But it is certainly also true that at the beginning of this conflict in the Balkans, Serbia probably harbored -- or most definitely harbored -- some territorial designs on many parts of the former Yugoslavia. We wanted to make sure that it was understood by all parties, including Belgrade, at the time that we deployed this force, that we were going to try as hard as we could to limit that conflict.
If the conflict in Bosnia itself, and in Croatia, does intensify, if it becomes a broader and wider war, we do fear the consequences throughout the Balkans because of the uncertainty with how a number of the forces there would act and would respond to such a crisis.
I don't think we can rest assure that somehow all is well and that we can withdraw this force. We think there is continuing reason to keep the force there.
Q Nick, to follow up again. Isn't a force of 500-or-so troops there irrelevant both to an attack from Serbia -- I mean, how could they stop the Serb army? And, secondly, would it become involved in the internal dispute between the various ethnic groups in Macedonia?
MR. BURNS: It's not the mission of the force to become involved in some of the internal conflicts that have been a problem in that area for a long, long time; certainly preceding the Bosnian war itself. But it is the mission of the force to be concerned with border violations. That's why we think it's important to keep the force there.
Q Nick, going to the heart of the Sarajevo situation, the Foreign Minister, Sacirbey, yesterday met with Warren Christopher. Can you tell us anything about that meeting? Did the Secretary of State have any success in asking the Bosnian Muslims to back off on their offensive in the Sarajevo area. And then I understand from the wires that the Muslims have not succeeded in some of their objectives at least. The Serbs took the road back to Pale -- the Pale to Sarajevo road, etc. Could you update us on the fighting in and around Sarajevo?
MR. BURNS: Let's just begin with the fighting and then go on to last evening's meeting. As far as we know, the fighting continues at a lower level today than perhaps in past days. There have been, if you look at the reports from both sides, some limited successes by the Bosnian Government. The Bosnian Serbs are reporting that they have been able to rebound from some initial successes and take back at least one strategic road.
A lot of that is pretty hard to corroborate because of the intensity of the fighting over the last couple of days and the fact that the United Nations does not have observers in all of these areas.
We remain concerned about the fighting, and we continue to believe that a political solution is the preferred outcome here.
Last evening, the Secretary met with the new Foreign Minister of Bosnia, Mr. Sacirbey. It was a very good meeting. It lasted about 40 minutes. They traded views on a couple of issues. First on the situation on the ground -- the military situation on the ground; the Bosnian Government's view as to it objectives, and its hopes for relieving the very difficult situation that the residents of Sarajevo find themselves under in terms of privation and lack of access to food and water, and to proper medical care, and all of the horrors that you have seen on the television screens over the last couple of weeks.
Second, they talked about the diplomacy and the future of the diplomacy. The Secretary talked about his recent meeting with Carl Bildt, the new negotiator of the European Union, and our hope that the diplomatic track might now be energized with Mr. Bildt's appointment. The Secretary gave the Foreign Minister a very strong reaffirmation of the view of the United States that in this period of great flux, it makes sense to keep UNPROFOR on the ground, and we hope very much that with the support and really the activity of our allies -- the Dutch, the French and the British -- that the rapid-reaction force might be able to make a difference in Bosnia.
They had a general discussion on the advantages of that approach, keeping UNPROFOR in the area versus the disadvantages we see from a withdrawal of UNPROFOR in the region. So it was a good meeting, a very friendly meeting and a constructive meeting. The Secretary has an excellent relationship with Foreign Minister Sacirbey, and I think they both left with a feeling that we understand fairly well the views of both sides.
While we're on that issue, I just would like to say that as we go through this period of turbulence and flux in Bosnia, we believe it's very important to try to weigh the relative advantages and disadvantages of the options that are available to us. They aren't good options. The condition of UNPROFOR is problematic, to say the least, and the conditions on the ground are worse for the people who have to live under the shelling and the bombing.
But the United States and its allies have to weigh the advantages of continuing with UNPROFOR versus any advantages or disadvantages from a withdrawal. We believe a withdrawal of UNPROFOR at this stage would very much harm any prospect that we have to encourage an improvement in the political dialogue, and the ultimate success of political negotiations.
We believe that withdrawal of UNPROFOR would lead to the intensification of the fighting and perhaps even a widening of the war. We believe it would be a blow not only to the United Nations but to our NATO allies, and it would also be quite expensive and quite dangerous.
As policy-makers, of course, people in this government and people in the West in general have to weigh the disadvantages that I've just mentioned about a withdrawal of UNPROFOR from the region, with the disadvantages and advantages that we currently have to live through. And for all of its flaws and imperfections, we believe that UNPROFOR must stay, that it's in our national interests that it stay, and it's in the interests of the people of the region that it stay.
There is not only a military mission here that now needs to be put together again because it's in some pieces, but there is a humanitarian mission to the people of the region that has got to be fulfilled.
Q Nick, that sounds like a fairly blanket statement. Yesterday you said that it remains an open question whether the deployment of a rapid-reaction force will in fact strengthen UNPROFOR and allow it to carry out missions it's currently unable to carry out.
Are we giving essentially a blank check to the United Nations to continue to support UNPROFOR in Bosnia regardless of whether it is able to function effectively or not?
MR. BURNS: Let me separate two questions here. One question is, is it in the national interests of the United States to have UNPROFOR remain and to have the United States support the continuation of UNPROFOR. That's the question I was addressing today, in part because we hear many calls for the withdrawal of UNPROFOR from the region.
The question that I was addressing yesterday -- and I would say the same thing today -- is, will UNPROFOR be successful? Will the rapid- reaction force truly make a difference in responding to the failure of UNPROFOR to meet its mission -- its military mission to protect the enclaves and to protect Sarajevo; its mission up until yesterday to collect heavy weapons and to keep them out of Bosnian Serb hands, and its humanitarian mission.
Clearly, the United Nations right now -- UNPROFOR -- is not able to carry out those missions in any kind of a satisfactory way. So that's a separate question. We want to make it possible for our allies and for us -- all members of the UNPROFOR force -- we're a member in terms of being a funder -- we want to make it possible for UNPROFOR to succeed. But I can't stand here and give you a blanket answer as to whether or not we think that UNPROFOR will succeed.
It is a slightly different question to ask whether we should make the effort, and that was the question that I was addressing today. Yes, we should make the effort to help it succeed, and yes, it should stay.
Q (Inaudible) if it doesn't succeed?
MR. BURNS: Excuse me?
Q Should it say even if it is not successful?
MR. BURNS: We're unwilling to make the assumption now that it has no chance of succeeding in the future. It clearly has not succeeded, certainly in recent months, in the way that we had hoped. If you step back a little bit and take February 1994 as one reference point, we had a lot of success initially in terms of weapons collection, in keeping the enclaves relatively free of the conflict that we have seen over the past couple of months. Throughout this winter, the people of Sarajevo were able to lead not a normal life, but certainly a life that is far better than the life that they led in 1992 and three, and the life that they're leading now. And that was an advantage that UNPROFOR produced.
We believe it's important to make the effort again to create the conditions under which UNPROFOR can be successful. Will we succeed? We don't know. But we're going to try, and that is the calculation that we've made here and that our allies have made, and that was really the agreement that was reached at that very important Contact Group meeting in Noordwijk a couple of weeks ago.
Q How would you define "success," though? I mean, as you admit yesterday, the decision of the United Nations was basically to withdraw from the exclusion zone, so therefore that is -- I mean, they can't possibly be successful if they're not there. I mean, it seems like the only mission that they have left is to deliver humanitarian aid, and that's going to be difficult and at the mercy of the Serbs, right?
MR. BURNS: I guess we have a fairly high standard of success, Carol. Success would certainly be something -- a level of performance far above the current performance. If you look at the specific mandates --
Q What tasks?
MR. BURNS: If you look at the specific tasks or mandates, they are to protect the populations from the aggressions by the Bosnian Serbs essentially -- the populations in the enclaves -- and to provide humanitarian support for the people in the affected areas and the enclaves and in Sarajevo.
Right now the standard of success is not being met by UNPROFOR. I don't think you could have any argument from representatives of UNPROFOR on that order. But that is a definition of success that we think is important to try to obtain. We think that these are tasks or missions that are worth carrying out, and we think that the disadvantages of withdrawal -- a total withdrawal at the time -- are that none of these tasks could possibly be met.
If you have an interest in the welfare of the average people there, as we do, we have to make an attempt to continue to meet that standard.
Q What does the Department think of Senator Nunn's suggestion yesterday that a date certain be set for the success of re-energized diplomacy or that the troops -- that the UNPROFOR troops be withdrawn?
MR. BURNS: I think it's fair to say that Senator Nunn has provided a very thoughtful and reasoned analysis of the situation. We have an agreement in one fundamental respect, and that is that we agree with Senator Nunn that there has to be a concerted effort to try again to achieve a political solution, which was part of what he was saying yesterday, and that's part of what I have been saying today, and that our government stands for, is that we cannot give up on that effort, and we're not going to give up on that effort.
We don't believe that fixing a deadline for the conclusion of talks is a way in which we want to proceed right now, Steve. We believe that given the current situation, the difficulties of the current situation, we shouldn't have self-imposed deadlines that may not in the final analysis, depending on events, turn out to be in our best interests. That's just a very general reaction.
Q Nick, to follow a question I previously asked, is it still the policy of the United States Government to promote a stand-down -- military stand-down or a truce between the Serbs and the Bosnian Muslims? And, second, is it our understanding that the Russians are also favoring a truce or lack of military confrontation and are promoting that with the Bosnian Serbs?
MR. BURNS: All the members of the Contact Group, including the United States and Russia, favor a political settlement, an end to the fighting, a cease-fire and negotiations. That's our position, and that's the Russian Government position as far as we understand it.
Q So Warren Christopher yesterday was asking the Bosnian Muslims for a cease-fire -- a re-establishment of the cease-fire?
MR. BURNS: No. The discussion did not deal with that issue. The Secretary did not make that kind of recommendation to the Foreign Minister. The discussion centered on essentially a report from the Foreign Minister on his analysis of the situation on the ground and on what we could do with the Bosnian Government to promote successful negotiations, working through the Contact Group, working through Mr. Bildt in the coming weeks and months.
The discussion focused on that. It did not include any kind of free advice or any kind of discussion on our part about the military effort itself.
Q And is a Bosnian Serb offensive or counter-offensive still expected?
MR. BURNS: I don't know if you can call it a counter-offensive, but certainly they're fighting, and they're responding to what we understand to be attacks from the Bosnian Government over the last five or six days.
Q The Secretary did not counsel Sacirbey to call off the offensive?
MR. BURNS: That simply didn't come up in the meeting. I think you know what our general position is. We believe that this is a decision that the Bosnian Government alone can make. It has to consider the consequences of its decisions, and that has in fact been our position for quite some time.
Q But last week the U.S. Government was counseling them not to do this.
MR. BURNS: Actually, last week, just for the record, to go further into the conversation -- last week when the Bosnian Prime Minister was here, the Secretary was in a listening mode, and he did indicate that of course this was a decision that the Bosnian Government would have to make. That was the tenor of the Secretary's comments -- I don't want to quote him directly, because I can't remember the exact words on Thursday when he met the President in Halifax.
Q Nick, it's very easy for you to stand up there and give our closest European allies a failing grade on their efforts in Bosnia, especially when the United States is not involved anywhere near the degree they are -- cannot even get its Congress to support monetary support for the rapid-reaction force.
What specifically is the United States prepared to do to help tutor its allies in handling the Balkan conflict?
MR. BURNS: Sid, we're not giving anybody a failing grade. That wasn't the tenor of my comments. It wasn't the thrust of my comments, and it wasn't in the words. We have collective responsibility. The United States is the leading financier of UNPROFOR, and I think all of us -- when I said that UNPROFOR hasn't succeeded, I wasn't focusing the blame on any particular group of countries, and I certainly wasn't acting as if the United States has had nothing to do with the Balkan region over the last couple of years.
This has been an international effort. The United States has been engaged in this effort, and we've been supportive of it, and therefore we are part of it; and we have to take responsibility for what has happened, at least our end of it, and what hasn't happened.
Having said that, we are prepared -- and Secretary Perry made this very clear to his defense ministerial colleagues -- to help with the introduction of a rapid-reaction force in terms of lending to them or giving them any equipment they need to bolster that force in terms of logistical help, military lift and communications. We've made that clear since the week that we are all in Noordwijk, and that offer stands, and we are cooperating with them.
We are not trying to give the impression that we are sitting here on our side of the Atlantic casting stones. We're not doing that. It is one of the most vexing issues that the West has faced in Bosnia in a long, long time. Nobody in the United States Government is satisfied with the way things have gone. We are deeply impressed by the complexity and difficulties of this problem, and we have great sympathy and great respect for our allies who have put troops on the ground.
We've not made the decision. We've made the decision not to put troops on the ground, and that decision stands. We're not going to be involved on the ground. We're certainly going to support our allies who do have troops on the ground. It's yet another reason that the United States supports the continuation of UNPROFOR, and while we don't support the calls of those people who say that UNPROFOR should withdraw.
Q How can you help with the rapid-reaction force if Congress won't let you? Or let me rephrase the question. Will you do it whether Congress endorses it or not?
MR. BURNS: The President and the Secretary have made very clear that we support the rapid-reaction force. That's unequivocal. What we need to do now, because of the way our government has been constructed for 200 years -- and we're all glad it's constructed this way -- is to consult with the Congress and to consult with the Congress not only on the nature of our support but also the level of financial commitment. That is the way the American system works.
We are looking into a variety of funding options, and we hope and are determined to get to the end of this particular story and to have some resolution of this issue with the Congress, and we're working very hard with the Congress -- have been for the last couple of days on this.
Q If I could just go to my question -- if you could answer the question -- will the United States help deploy the rapid-reaction force, whether Congress endorses it or not?
MR. BURNS: I think the President and Secretary both said last week that it's a two-step process here. We have made very clear to our allies most recently in Halifax, that we support the introduction of the rapid-reaction force and that we're going to assist it, and I've given you some specific examples of how we could.
The issue of funding is part and parcel of this. We have a commitment to consult with the Congress and to work with the Congress, and that's what we're doing, and I'm just going to leave it there.
Q There's a report that NATO is drawing down some of the planes that are being used to monitor the "no-fly" zone. It sounds like more retreat.
MR. BURNS: No, it's not a retreat. I think it's a misunderstanding. I understand from the Pentagon, and the Pentagon can speak to this in great detail, this is a normal rotation of forces. I think the press report referred to the reduction from 16 to 8 in Dutch fighter aircraft that are part of the "Deny Flight Operation." That has been underway for the last three/three-and-a-half years.
This is a normal rotation of national contributing forces. It does not and will not lead to a reduction in the number of aircraft that NATO will bring to the "Deny Flight Operation." We remain committed to "Deny Flight" in its fullest dimension, and we will not decrease by a single plane the number of aircraft that take part in this operation.
Q But someone is going to contribute (inaudible).
MR. BURNS: Yes. The Pentagon will have the details. But if the Dutch are taking eight planes and moving them to another air base some place in Europe, someone else will be contributing eight additional planes. There is no reduction in the number of planes being made available to "Deny Flight."
Q A violation of the U.N. embargo, sanction, against Serbia has increased the tension between the United States and Cyprus, because they have some offshore banking -- Russian offshore banking, and some companies which they are serving to Serbia. And we heard about that the two lawyers, they are planning to sue the U.S. Ambassador in Cyprus. Do you have any comment on the latest development on this subject?
MR. BURNS: Our Ambassador in Cyprus, well known to you -- (laughter) -- is doing a very able job of representing United States interests in Cyprus; and he, of course, has had some conversations, as we discussed, I think, last week with the Government of Cyprus, not about the actions of the Government of Cyprus on Serbia sanctions, but about some individuals in Cyprus.
So we're not pinning any blame here on the Government of Cyprus. It's rather directed towards individuals in Cyprus who may, we think, have been involved in transgressions against the sanctions that are in place, and we're concerned about that, and we're pursuing it with the Government of Cyprus because we expect, of course, that the Government of Cyprus can bring some authority to bear on these particular individuals.
Q Thank you.
MR. BURNS: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:51 p.m.)
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