U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/06/23 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, June 23, 1995 Briefers: Brian Atwood James Dobbins Nicholas Burns HAITI National Elections .......................................1-7 --Presidential Delegation from U.S. ......................2 --Funding for Electoral Process ..........................7 Process of Restoration of Democracy in Haiti .............3-4 Economic Aid/Reforms .....................................6-8 DEPARTMENT Secretary Christopher's Personal Statement on Retirement of British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd ..............8-9 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA War in Bosnia --Rapid Reaction Force: Funding; Mandate; Letter from Mr. Akashi to Mr. Karadzic; Amb. Albright's Statement .9-14 --Allegation/Statement re: UN/French/Serb Negotiations ...11-12 --Read-out of Russian Ambassador Churkin's Talks .........24-25 ARMS CONTROL Nuclear Testing: U.S. Moratorium .........................14-16 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Israeli-Syrian Security Talks ............................17,19-20 Secretary Christopher Mtg. w/Chief of Syrian General Staff and Upcoming Mtg. w/Israeli Chief of Staff .............16-17,19 LEBANON Violence in Southern Lebanon .............................16-19 --Secretary Christopher Telecon w/Syrian Foreign Minister 17,19 --U.S. Ambassador Indyk Mtg. w/Israeli Prime Minister ....17,19 MEXICO U.S. Denial of Extradition of Former Deputy Atty. General 18-19 TURKEY PKK Terrorism ............................................20-21 Gov't. Recommendation for Extension of Mandate for Operation Provide Comfort ..............................21 SYRIA Report of Syria-Greek Agreement re: Use of Syrian Bases ..21 IRAQ Detained Americans: Access by Polish Diplomat; Deliveries 21-22 CUBA Specially Designated Nationals ...........................22-24
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, JUNE 23, 1995, 12:40 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. We're pleased to have with us today Brian Atwood who is the Administrator of the Agency for International Development and Ambassador James Dobbins who is the Special Coordinator for Haiti.
They are here to talk with us today about the upcoming elections in Haiti which are scheduled for Sunday, about United States policy toward Haiti and to answer any questions you have about other issues pertaining to Haiti.
Following their presentation, as is our practice, I'll be very glad to go directly to our Daily Briefing.
MR. ATWOOD: I'll be very brief. I think that we're handing out a statement here, so I will not bore you by reading it all. But we're about to experience a rather remarkable event in Haiti in light of what has transpired in that country in recent years.
It is remarkable to think that only nine months ago we went into Haiti with a multinational force to restore the democracy that began in 1990 with the election of President Aristide.
Obviously, the United States has played the critical role in helping the Haitian people realize their hopes for democracy. The return of Haiti's first democratic government in October 1994 was made possible, obviously, by the presence of 20,000 U.S. troops working to secure stability under difficult conditions.
Building on the groundwork secured by our Armed Forces, the United States has an important interest in seeing that this upcoming election is a free and fair one.
I just want to emphasize that this election is an important step along the path to democracy. Clearly, there has not been a parliament that has been serving for the last few months, and so there's a gap -- an institutional gap in that democracy that needs to be filled. For the last several months, the United States has been actively supporting the Electoral Commission and the Government of Haiti, not only in providing the security through the U.N. force that is there, but also in actively helping the Electoral Commission -- Electoral Council prepare for the election.
So I will be leading a Presidential Delegation. Among some of the other members of that delegation will be Senator Bob Graham of Florida; Special Assistant to the President Morton Halperin, and many other distinguished Americans who will be there to consult with the other individuals who will be observing this election; and there will be hundreds of people, literally, representing the Organization of American States, the International Republican Institute, the United Nations and other groups that will be there to watch this process.
It is I think clear that the situation has changed dramatically in Haiti even since 1990. I remember very vividly being involved in that effort and with President Carter who was concerned about the security situation. But we do not have those concerns now.
This election campaign has been remarkably free of violence and we are now talking about simply the complications of running an election wherein there are some 11,000 candidates for 2,195 offices. That is a complicated task, and we have been working to help the Electoral Council prepare for this, distributing ballots, training poll workers, making sure that the candidates have an opportunity to express themselves, clarifying certain problems along the way.
It is a complicated election and I've seen many of them. The 1990 election was an election of a President, and there were three or four candidates, and, of course, President Aristide won with close to 70 percent of the vote.
In this case, with the 2,195 offices, it is complicated for the voters themselves, many of whom are illiterate, but there is, I think, in the ballot system itself photographs of candidates and symbols and the like that will enhance the process.
Just a final personal word. I had been an observer in the 1987 election in Haiti, and that election was canceled, aborted as a result of violence. It was a very anguishing moment for me and others that were there from the international community.
What was inspiring about what we saw, however, was that the Haitian people who were standing in the voting lines insisted on getting up again after 34 of their fellow citizens had been killed by this violence and insisted on voting anyway, taking the risks that they might indeed be shot at.
I think those of us who believe in this process understand that elections, while not making democracies, are important steps along the way. We're deeply inspired by those acts of courage that we saw in Haiti. We're delighted to be able to go down and represent our government and to share this celebration of democracy with the Haitian people.
Jim Dobbins I think would like to say a few words about other aspects of our policy in Haiti.
MR. DOBBINS: Thank you, Brian. Let me just say a few words about where these elections fit in the context of American policy toward Haiti and toward the events which have been taking place in Haiti since the deployment of the multinational force there in September.
The objective of that deployment was the restoration of democracy, not the restoration of a single individual or set of individuals, and that process has been proceeding apace. Even before President Aristide's return in October, you had the return of parliamentarians, the resumption of a parliamentarian session, and the beginning of passage of legislation.
Shortly after President Aristide returned, a multi-party government was formed, which continues in office today, and nearly all of the major parties that are running in this election are in fact represented in the government, and thus the talk about opposition parties is inexact to some degree because of the nature of the Haitian Government, which is a broad coalition.
Shortly after he had returned, President Aristide sat down with all of the political parties and began to work out an agreed approach to enable elections to be held. This required agreement on the construction of a provisional electoral commission, a council, which in turn had to craft an electoral law which is the basis for these elections, which in turn had to be passed by parliament and then issued by the President. And it's on that basis that these elections are being held.
These may well be the most important elections in Haitian history. You have well over 10,000 candidates for nearly 2,000 or over 2,000 offices. You have an electoral registration which is now over 90 percent, which is the highest it has ever been in any Haitian election and is a truly extraordinary testament to the commitment of the Haitian people to the democratic process.
This election also fits within a broader timetable which, as I mentioned, began with the deployment of the multinational force in September, the return of President Aristide in October, the hand-off of peacekeeping responsibilities from the multinational force to the U.N. Mission in March of this year, the elections which are taking place this month in June, a second national election which will take place in December, which will be an election for President, and then the departure of the U.N. mission peacekeeping force in February of next year after the inauguration of a new President.
The policy, thus, continues to proceed basically on course and on schedule, and I think at this point while problems may well arise between now and February, it's reasonable to say that at this point the policy appears to be providing what it promised when it promised.
MR. ATWOOD: Be happy to take questions.
Q I keep hearing rumblings about the possibility that the U.N. might stay on beyond February because the need will still be there eight months from now, or whatever it is. Is there any serious discussion about that possibility?
MR. DOBBINS: I think you have to make a distinction between a peacekeeping force and the U.N. The U.N. has a presence in a lot of countries in the world where there are no peacekeepers, no soldiers, and I would anticipate some international community presence -- which would include the OAS or which would include the U.N. and which will certainly include the United States Government -- will continue beyond February.
There has been no discussion in the United States Government or with any other governments or between any other two governments that I know of about the continuation of a peacekeeping force in Haiti beyond February. The Security Council resolution indicates that the end date that everybody is looking to is February, and no one has suggested that that should be reconsidered.
Q Do you have any reason to think that President Aristide will step down from office and not seek re-election in December as he pledged to do so?
MR. ATWOOD: I was there three weeks ago and had both a private conversation with him and a more public conversation with some members of our delegation. He made it very clear that he has no intention of staying in office beyond his term.
He did indicate to some reporters on that visit that he would consider, if the people of Haiti wanted him to, running again when he was eligible under the constitution to run, which is, I believe, the year 1999. But we keep hearing these reports. We have no, certainly, reason to doubt what President Aristide has said, and he's reiterated it any number of times, and it's clear that he will not be participating in the next Haitian Presidential election.
Q Have steps been taken to ensure a level playing field in terms of access to the media and other trappings?
MR. ATWOOD: This has been an interesting campaign period, but because of one of our NGOs who has been running campaign forums all over the country, the candidates have all had a chance to debate the issues in four different regions around the country, most recently in Port-au- Prince.
The latest campaign forum, with all of the candidates from the Port-au-Prince area represented, was then played on national television, in part; and then there's a cable network that played the entire program.
That has been pretty much the campaign. I have to say that it's been a subdued campaign. I mean, it has not been a campaign with people shouting at one another and having that kind of a debate. But the parties' positions, I think, are known. The people know who they want to vote for.
There were some complications because of the tardiness in deciding who was eligible to be candidates, but that didn't stop some of those candidates from getting out and campaigning even before they were determined to be eligible to run, and there were, of course, complications when some people were deemed ineligible for a variety of technical reasons.
So I think it's certainly adequate. I would expect that a lot has been learned in this process, and that the institutionalization of the process is something that we would like to see sustained. They did this particular process with a lot of help from us and from the international community, and what we need to see happening here is that they institutionalize it so that the Haitian people will be able to do this themselves in the future.
MR. DOBBINS: If I may just add to that, that the Haitian Government has made air time available on its radio and TV stations to all of the parties on a basis that nobody had suggested is anything other than fair and equitable, and they have made use of that facility as well as buying commercial time on the commercial stations.
Q Brian, once these elections are concluded, would you expect an influx of outside non-governmental -- well, both governmental and non-governmental type aid, or will that have to wait until after the conclusion of the Presidential election?
MR. ATWOOD: No, I think the aid has begun to flow, and we've obligated 60 percent of our aid already, a $200 million commitment for the first year, and the overall international community commitment was $1.9 billion.
We haven't seen the World Bank money that is going to be used for infrastructure yet begin to repair the roads and the like, but that is coming right down the road. We've managed to maintain jobs. We've managed to begin the process of repairing the environment, including working on sustainable agriculture and the planting of trees and the like.
We have seen an active role, and we, of course, are putting a great deal of emphasis on the whole justice system, including the training of police. So it's begun to flow more rapidly, perhaps, from our side than from the international community yet, but don't think that they're waiting for this election. Their problem is bureaucratic delays more than anything else. It's not simply waiting to see whether this election is --
Q What about private investors, though, waiting for elections? Is this a different story?
MR. ATWOOD: There are a lot of things that we're waiting for. The Government has committed itself to a program of privatization. It's clear there may have been some slight delay in all of that because of the election period. But the government has made some very strong statements and begun that process.
I think what outside investors are looking for is an enabling environment. They're looking for more predictability; they're looking toward the security situation; they're looking to make sure that the power supply in the country is adequate.
I think we've made major progress in all of those areas. We've also seen the assembly sector come back to Haiti in a very large way, and a lot of jobs are being produced by that. We're looking at about a 2.9 percent economic growth rate for this year. Now, that's recovery. It's not dramatic but it's recovery, when you consider that the previous three years you had negative growth. You had a loss of a third of the GNP of the country.
MR. DOBBINS: I might just add to that. Where these elections will be important is in creating a parliament which will in turn be in a position to pass the legislation allowing the nationalization of some of the key parastatal industries. We anticipate that there will be very strong investor interest in things like the power company, the telephone company, the port, the cement plant -- those kinds of industries which will be privatized.
The U.S. Government is prepared to support that investment. OPIC has set up a $200 million line of credit, in effect, for investment of that sort. So one of the reasons that we thought early elections are desirable is precisely in order to sustain investor interest and begin implementing the broad economic reforms which Aristide has committed his government to.
Q Do you have any idea how much this election is costing?
MR. ATWOOD: Our contribution is about $11.9 million. We've provided maybe $10 million to the Electoral Council itself -- to the United Nations for support of the Electoral Council. We've done a lot of other work with some of our non-governmental groups like NDI and the International Republican Institute and AIFLD -- AFL-CIO. They're all doing getting out the vote and training political parties and running campaign forums and doing observer missions.
So we've done a lot to support this electoral process. There's no question about that.
Estimates I've heard is that -- other contributions from other countries and the like -- it may be close to $15-$16 million overall.
Q Back on the economy, there were a lot of assembly plants there just a few years ago. All of them shut down after '91, I guess. Is there much evidence that these companies are going back in?
MR. ATWOOD: We've seen it, they're not all back in. They've begun. I don't know whether you have statistics. Do you have numbers, Jim?
MR. DOBBINS: I have a few. They, of course, change. We're basically back up to where we were before the embargo was tightened around this time last year. Prior to that it was a rather loose and largely voluntary embargo. It had driven a lot of investors away but so had the basic economic and political conditions in the country. So we're back up to where we were before the embargo was tightened.
I think that the current numbers is something close to 10,000 employees and something between 50 and 100 firms, obviously most of them fairly small firms that have resumed operations.
This compares to perhaps 40,000 employment in this sector at its peak before the coup. It won't be for another year or two until you'll be back up at that level at current rates of increase.
Q You're confident that it will be back up at that level?
MR. DOBBINS: I think we're confident that as long as the Haitian Government continues to follow as it has sound macro-economic policies and proceeds with its program for privatization and other economic reforms, and as long as assistance flows as it is flowing and is committed, the prospects for growth in the Haitian economy are quite good.
MR. ATWOOD: Thank you.
(Following Mr. Atwood and Mr. Dobbins, State Department Spokesman Nicholas Burns resumed the Daily Briefing at 1:00 p.m.)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon again. I'd be very glad to go to your questions in a minute. But, first, Secretary of State Christopher has asked me to read the following statement:
"President Clinton and I learned with deep regret that British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd has decided to retire. I spoke earlier today with the Foreign Secretary and conveyed the appreciation of the United States for his wise counsel and resolute support over the past six years.
"One of the things I have valued the most during the last two and half years has been my relationship with Douglas Hurd. We have become close friends. His dedication, judgment, and leadership will be missed.
"Perhaps the councils of state will most miss his stature, civility, and wit. I know I will. Douglas Hurd has worked very closely with the Clinton and Bush Administrations on the enormous range of challenges our two countries have faced during a remarkable period of world history.
"He has made a major contribution to strengthening the ability of the Atlantic Alliance to meet the challenges that have arisen following the end of the Cold War. Achievements such as building a new European security architecture, creating NATO's Partnership for Peace, supporting reform in Russia, and the other New Independent States, standing together against aggression in Operation Desert Storm, and securing the indefinite extension of a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty -- these are just a few of the areas where Foreign Secretary Hurd has played a key role in advancing our common security interests.
"We also have worked closely together in the continuing effort to end the war in Bosnia.
"Our partnership has reflected in every way the deep bonds between the United States and the United Kingdom, which will continue even as we salute the long and distinguished service of Douglas Hurd."
That was a personal statement by Secretary of State Warren Christopher.
Now, I'll be glad to go to your questions.
Q Can you say anything additional today about the ground rules governing the Rapid Reaction Force and the possibility of a U.S. contribution to financing that force?
MR. BURNS: I don't have anything new to offer today on that subject, George. We went into that exhaustively yesterday. We are continuing to examine -- on the issue of funding -- with the United States Congress, how the United States might contribute the Rapid Reaction Force.
We support the Force. We want to be able to help bring it into being very quickly. Yesterday, I discussed one possible option that we are pursuing. That is, the creation of a voluntary fund that would be comprised of financial contributions and military equipment that we have offered to the major troop-contributing countries.
We do not yet have cost figures for what the expenses will be to field a Rapid Reaction Force for the next six months, which is the way the costs are being assessed. As soon as we're able to get a detailed cost figure, then we'll be able to assess what the proper contribution from the United States will be.
On the mandate of the Force, we talked about this yesterday. I think you might have noted some comments made by Ambassador Madeleine Albright last evening about the letter that was sent by Mr. Akashi to the Bosnian Serb leadership in Pale.
We would be most concerned if the letter were taken to mean that the Rapid Reaction Force is more of the same for the United Nations in Bosnia. As you know, our view is that the United Nations should remain, but it is at this point a flawed operation and it needs to be strengthened.
Our understanding is that the Rapid Reaction Force is intended to help UNPROFOR defend itself and to do its job better, which means making UNPROFOR able to respond expeditiously and forcibly to those who threaten it and its mission. We want UNPROFOR to be stronger and more effective.
So, in this sense, Ambassador Albright felt the proper course was to convey this notion to the U.N. Secretary General, which she has done, and also to make these concerns public.
Q Nick, do you have a copy of the Akashi letter?
MR. BURNS: We do have a copy of the Akashi letter. We did not have a copy until late yesterday afternoon. We had been seeking a copy of the letter. We were able to get it from the United Nations in New York late yesterday afternoon. We were able to examine it. And it was on that basis that Ambassador Albright and the Department decided to make some public comments late last evening about our view of that particular letter.
Q Can you make it public?
MR. BURNS: That's not really for us to say. This is a letter of the United Nations from a U.N. official. It's not our letter. It's a letter that was given to us on an informational basis, so I'd really direct that question to the United Nations.
Q Could you at least say what section of it concerned you the most?
MR. BURNS: I'll be glad just to go through, in a little bit more detail, our views on this particular letter. I think you know that Mr. Akashi, the Secretary General's Special Representative, wrote to the Pale Serb leader, Mr. Karadzic, about the mission of the Rapid Reaction Force that was authorized last week by the U.N. Security Council.
The letter seeks to assure Mr. Karadzic that the Rapid Reaction Force will not change UNPROFOR's essential peacekeeping mission. We would be concerned if the letter were taken to mean,.as I said previously, that this would essentially mean more of the same for the U.N. operations in Bosnia.
Our understanding is that this force is intended to strengthen UNPROFOR which was not the sense that we got from reading this letter.
We have been consulting very closely with the major troop- contributing states -- the British, the French, and the Dutch. Ambassador Albright has had a series of meetings this week. Secretary Christopher has been involved in discussions as have other senior officials of the State Department.
As Ambassador Albright indicated in her statement, the method, the timing, and the substance of this letter are highly inappropriate. The Council's advice should have been sought before this letter was sent. Those views have been expressed directly to the Secretary General as well as to other members of the Security Council.
Q Some media reports believe this letter was part of a larger campaign by the French -- a secret campaign to win the release of the U.N. hostages. Have you discussed the reports of the so-called secret negotiations between the French and the U.N. and Serbs? Are you concerned about it? Is it true? Is it real, etc.?
MR. BURNS: We have been assured by the French Government that no such negotiations took place and no deal was made.
I would direct you to the French Foreign Ministry Spokesman's comments this morning on this issue. I believe it's out in the wires where he categorically rejects the notion that France engaged in this type of action.
I would also refer you to Mr. Akashi, who has said publicly that is also the case from the U.N. point of view.
Q Your understanding is that the French commander there did not meet privately with his Bosnian Serb counterparts?
MR. BURNS: I think you'll have to direct your questions on this to the French Government. I cannot be responsible for answering questions about who met who when the United States Government was clearly not involved.
There is an authoritative and very clear statement this morning from the French Foreign Ministry on this particular issue.
Q But do you believe it?
MR. BURNS: We certainly have full faith and trust in the word of the French Government.
Q Do you have full faith and trust in the word of Mr. Akashi?
MR. BURNS: Sid, I'm not sure this line of questioning is entirely appropriate. I think we've been on record on this time and again, and I would just refer you to what I said the other day. I would direct that question to Mr. Akashi.
Q Ambassador Albright's statement was a written statement; this was not spoken somewhere; it was a written statement?
MR. BURNS: Ambassador Albright had to travel last evening to Chicago. She worked out a statement with some other officials here in the Department that she wanted to issue because she had the lead, of course, in the discussions in the Security Council on this issue. That was conveyed to some news organizations last evening by the Department.
Q Nick, to follow up somewhat on Sid's most recent question. Is it the view of the U.S. Government that Mr. Akashi is still the man to carry the U.N.'s views -- best carry them -- in Bosnia even if UNPROFOR is strengthened, according to U.S. wishes?
MR. BURNS: We certainly want UNPROFOR to be strengthened. We are working closely with the United Nations to that effect.
I would just note that Mr. Akashi was appointed by the U.N. Secretary General. Therefore, it's really not appropriate for me to comment on that particular appointment. It's really up to the Secretary General to make these decisions as to who will serve him in the field.
Q But it's appropriate for the U.S. to have a view?
MR. BURNS: The U.S. has views on many issues. Sometimes we make our views public and sometimes we keep them private.
Q Nick, should the U.N. -- should Akashi withdraw the letter?
MR. BURNS: Our feeling is that there should have been a discussion in the Security Council among the major contributors to UNPROFOR before this letter was sent. The United States is a major contributor to UNPROFOR. We're the major the financier of UNPROFOR. We are deeply involved in UNPROFOR's operation. We have clear and strong views on the mandate of the Rapid Reaction Force and on UNPROFOR's mandate.
We think this letter, in many ways, is inconsistent with our own understanding of that mandate. It would have been entirely appropriate and reasonable for the Security Council to have had a chance to look at any proposals or any explanations of this Force that were being sent to the Pale Serb leadership. That did not take place, and that is at the root of our displeasure about this particular incident.
Q So what should be done to correct that displeasure?
MR. BURNS: The United States is going to follow up in the Security Council to make our views known, not only to our fellow members of the Security Council but also to the U.N. leadership itself. That process started yesterday when we had an opportunity to examine the letter.
Q Let me try that question a little differently. Should Akashi be reprimanded or removed from his position?
MR. BURNS: I just have no comment on that, Carol. It's not in my domain to make that determination. I don't believe that determination has been made.
Q But certainly you're not giving him a vote of confidence?
MR. BURNS: Carol, Mr. Akashi works for the U.N. Secretary General. It is simply not appropriate for me to comment publicly on his status.
Q Nick, might it not be the case, however, that what Akashi said to Karadzic in his letter more closely mirrors what the British and French are now thinking about the mandate of this Rapid Reaction Force than what the United States would like for it to be?
MR. BURNS: I think there are two questions here, Steve. One is a very important question of process and one is a question of substance.
On the question of process, given the enormous importance of defining the mandate and agreeing on a mandate for the Rapid Reaction Force, it was simply unreasonable and ill-advised for this letter to be sent before there had been a clear discussion in the Security Council on that question. That's a question of process. But it also extends into the substance of the matter.
The United States has a very clear view that the addition of the Rapid Reaction Force to UNPROFOR should be designed to strengthen UNPROFOR, to make it better able to defend itself but also to carry out its missions. That's the clear view of the United States. We have made that view known to our allies.
Q You didn't answer the question. I'm saying, isn't it possible that what he said in his letter more closely mirrors what the participants in the Rapid Reaction Force feel about its mandate now than what the United States would like for it to be?
MR. BURNS: It's our view that we have not reached a conclusion in the Security Council about the mandate of the Rapid Reaction Force. Discussions continue with the Dutch, with the French, and with the British. Frankly, we are not hearing consistent views from all three countries about the specifics of the mandate. There are varying ideas that are being proposed privately as well as publicly.
We need to sort through those ideas and develop a common view of what the mandate is. Since we're in the middle of that process and have not reached the end of it, it therefore made little sense to send a letter from the United Nations to the Serb leadership defining what the mandate is.
Q Can I change the subject?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q Could you talk a little bit about where the Administration stands on nuclear testing? The fact that the President and his key advisors decided apparently not to make a decision on changing the U.S. position on testing at this point, should the American public view that with confidence that the President and his team stand behind the current position and will not flip-flop in the future? Or is it really open to change?
MR. BURNS: As I said the other day, Carol, the United States has no plans to resume testing. The extension of the moratorium that was announced in January, that will last until September 1996, is in effect and will be in effect. That is a very clear statement of U.S. policy.
Q But the Administration is really not helping the public to understand this issue. That is not the question. You know that wasn't what I was referring to.
I'm referring to the kinds of testing, or the kinds of experiments that the Administration would be prepared to do after a Comprehensive Test Ban is negotiated?
MR. BURNS: We're making every effort to help the American people and the American press corps understand this issue.
The issue has been brought into light by the recent decision of the French Government to resume testing. We have no intention to resume testing along those lines.
We have, however, made it very clear -- and in some detail -- that one of the questions that has to be looked at by negotiators as we work through the negotiations for a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty are issues concerning the experiments and the other tests that could result from our stewardship of our nuclear stockpile. That is quite different and separate from what most people understand to be the issue of nuclear testing.
So we have a very clear policy on the issue of nuclear testing. We have to work through issues that will be necessary to resolve while these negotiations are underway.
Q So basically you're saying that, in fact, where the Administration stands today is that it may, in fact, change its negotiating position on the kinds of testing, experiments -- whatever word you want to use -- after a CTB is completed?
MR. BURNS: No. That's not the way I would choose to describe it. We have a policy on nuclear testing, a moratorium on nuclear testing that is in effect.
The question of working out criteria that would guide the issue of experiments has to be resolved during the negotiations -- not after the negotiations -- during the negotiations. Because we intend fully to live by the letter of any Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty that is worked out, we hope, by 1996.
Q I'll try it one more time. I don't want to sort of take up everybody's time, but I think it's important to try to get some clarity on this issue.
The United States now has a negotiating position on the kinds of testing or laboratory experiments that it feels would be necessary to maintain the stewardship of the stockpile after a Comprehensive Test Ban is in place. This Administration has had considerable debate about whether or not it should change that negotiating position.
There was a meeting the other day. The decision was made not to make any change in the position at this point in time. My question is, should the American public read that as a commitment by the President and his foreign policy team to stick with the current negotiating position? Might it be changed in the run-up to the opening of full negotiations on this issue?
MR. BURNS: We are, of course, sticking by our position, that the moratorium on nuclear testing must remain in effect.
I would just bring you back -- in the interest of fairness, accuracy, and being as direct as I can -- to the question of what kinds of experiments and other stockpile stewardship activities would be permitted under the treaty that is being negotiated. It's a sequential operation. You have to look into those criteria -- and we've laid out three criteria -- as you negotiate. Because we hope that the treaty will be concluded in such a way that it will be consistent with the criteria that we have laid out.
So maybe we're talking past each other here, but that's our clear position, and that's as much as we can say on this issue in public.
MR. BURNS: I am speaking English.
Q New subject?
MR. BURNS: Sure.
Q Nick, the Syrian Chief-of-Staff is in town. Will there be a public diplomacy segment to his visit? If so, why the big secrecy about the location where these talks will take place? And also, will the Administration raise the question of Hizbollah shooting in the north this morning and use this occasion of his being here to restrain and cool down the situation that happened in the north?
MR. BURNS: The Secretary is having lunch, as we speak, with the Chief of the Syrian General Staff, General Shihabi, and with other Syrian officials. He will also be meeting the Israeli Chief of Staff, Mr. Shahak, next Tuesday for lunch.
These are preliminary discussions to the main discussions that will take place next week under our auspices -- the Syrian-Israeli talks on security pertaining to the Golan Heights.
Those discussions by agreement of all the parties will take place in private. It has not been our practice in the past to talk about where the discussions are being held or to have a public component of those discussions. That's the agreement that all three parties have reached, and we're going to live by that agreement.
On the situation in Lebanon: We're deeply concerned by the cycle of confrontation that continues in southern Lebanon. Violence in southern Lebanon only serves those who wish to create instability and undermine the search for Middle East.
Groups such as Hizbollah have exactly these aims in mind.
We are actively engaged with the parties at senior levels to urge maximum restraint and to urge that they do everything possible to calm the situation and avoid any further escalation.
To that end, the Secretary got up very early this morning and called Syrian Foreign Minister Shara. Ambassador Martin Indyk in Tel Aviv also went into see the Israeli Prime Minister, Mr. Rabin.
As a result of these conversations, we believe that both sides understand the need to exercise restraint and the need for control of the situation.
Q Why did he call Foreign Minister Shara if it's taking place in southern Lebanon?
MR. BURNS: You know, I think, Sid, that in July 1993, Secretary Christopher brokered an agreement with the parties in response to prolong violence that had taken place both in southern Lebanon and in northern Israel. As part of that agreement, Israel agreed to avoid civilian targets and the Syrians agreed to ensure there would be no attacks against Israel. That is the reality of the situation, and that's the way we've been proceeding for two full years now.
Q What about the 1991 agreement where the Taif Accord where Syria agreed to pull its troops out of southern Lebanon? It's just been forgotten about?
MR. BURNS: Sid, I was referring to the July 1993 agreement which pertains to the situation today. I think you know full well why we talk to the Syrian Government as well as to the Lebanese Government and others about these issues. I don't think it needs a lot of elaboration.
Q Okay. Well, I'm talking about another international accord that the Syrians signed, the Taif Accord, where they agreed to be at least partially out of Lebanon, if not all the way out by now. At one point, at least under a previous Administration, they at least said they continued to support it. Does this Administration support the Taif Accord, and do you intend to hold Syria's feet to the fire at least on this one?
MR. BURNS: What we support is the Middle East peace process. There is an Israeli-Lebanon track to that process, and we hope very much that that track can be successful in resolving all the issues pertaining to the conflict in Lebanon.
Q Are you saying that the Taif Accord can't be implemented until Israel and Syrian make peace?
MR. BURNS: Sid, I'm just not going to have any further comment for you.
Q Yesterday a Federal judge in Newark, New Jersey, denied the petition of Mexico to extradite former Attorney General Ruiz Massieu. Where does the Administration stand with this extradition?
MR. BURNS: The Justice Department is reviewing the magistrate's ruling of insufficient probable cause for extradition of the former Deputy Attorney General, Mr. Ruiz Massieu, and the Justice Department is considering possible options.
Mr. Ruiz Massieu remains in custody pending an extradition hearing on embezzlement charges scheduled for July 31. This is an ongoing legal case, and I do not want to comment further or speculate on the implications of the ruling.
Q There will be another -- I'm sorry -- the judge ruled for the 31st of July another hearing on other federal crimes. Will the State Department -- can and will it be having -- they're willing to -- besides the judge rulings? Can the State Department extradite Mr. Ruiz Massieu?
MR. BURNS: This is a matter for the Justice Department, and as there is this ongoing legal proceeding. I think I'm just going to refer you to the Justice Department for that. The Justice Department has the lead on this issue in the U.S. Government.
Q Can we go back to Syria for a second. I'll try to stay away from the things you don't want to talk about.
MR. BURNS: Thank you.
Q Are you saying that the Secretary has somehow brokered a cease-fire between the Israelis and the groups in southern Lebanon? Is that what he was doing this morning?
MR. BURNS: We were concerned by the events that took place in southern Lebanon, and for that reason the Secretary called the Syrian Foreign Minister and our Ambassador in Tel Aviv, Mr. Indyk, went in to see the Israeli Prime Minister. As a result of those conversations -- and this is intended to be very carefully worded, because I want to be as accurate as I can -- we think that both sides understand the need to exercise restraint and the need to control the situation.
There is this July 1993 agreement which we feel is important and that both sides feel is important.
Q Do you believe that the Secretary is raising this exact issue with his conversation now with General Shihabi -- the situation in the north along the border?
MR. BURNS: I wouldn't be surprised if it came up, but he focus of the lunch today is to have a preliminary conversation on the major issues that lie at the agenda for Syria and Israel for these military talks that will take place next week. The focus, of course, is trying to get to the point where we think we can make progress on these very sensitive security issues.
Q Do you think that there will be any agreement as a result of the talks between the two Chiefs of Staff?
MR. BURNS: It's hard to predict in this business whether there's going to be an agreement or not. We certainly hope there will be agreement in general, but we understand this is a difficult process, these are highly complex issues, and it may take a while to resolve them.
But we certainly go into next week's discussion with the hope and expectation that there is a good climate in the region; that both sides have made a strategic choice for peace; that both sides are going to be serious about these talks, and that they're going to bring the full faith of both governments to them. We have that assurance from the leadership of the Israeli Government and of the Syrian Government.
Q But there will be no aspect of public diplomacy like a photo op? I mean, this is part of a peaceful or trying to reach peace in the area, no?
MR. BURNS: We've had very good results with the way we have handled this in the past on the Syrian-Israeli track. That is when we have had discussions here in Washington; we've had them in private so the negotiators can concentrate on the issues, and we're going to keep to that next week.
When it's time to have a public presentation of either the negotiators or the issues or an explanation of what has happened -- when that time comes, we'll certainly engage in that. We think that it's best to proceed along the lines that I've described.
Q The public handshake will be helpful to the situation, to the diplomacy, to the peace?
MR. BURNS: I think the most important thing now is to have serious discussions. Both sides have said they're committed to that as a result of the Secretary's trip to the Middle East two weeks ago where he met with President Assad and with Prime Minister Rabin. Of course, the agreement there was that these talks would take place. The expectation was that they would take place along the same line that they have taken place in the past, and that some of the Ambassadorial-level talks have taken place. We think it's just most helpful to them and to us if we conduct the talks in this manner.
The real important thing here that we all ought to be focusing on is the results, and, when the results are achieved, then we'll have something to say in public.
Q In the last 15 days, at least 40 Turkish soldiers were killed by PKK terrorists. Immediately after this, six members of the Greek Parliament visited OPA. And the Turkish Government yesterday protested the thing officially to the Greek Government. What is your position on that?
MR. BURNS: I think you know our position; we've talked about this frequently and that is we support the decision by the Turkish Government to protect its citizens from terrorism, in this case specifically from PKK terrorism. There are problems within Turkey. There are problems in northern Iraq.
And while we're on the subject of northern Iraq, let me just reiterate our very strong support for the "Operation Provide Comfort." We understand that the Turkish Government has recommended to the Turkish Parliament that the mandate of "Provide Comfort II" be extended. We welcome that.
I would note that the Turkish Parliament has not yet voted on the extension, and while we cannot predict the actions of the Turkish Parliament, we nevertheless thank the Turkish Government for its recommendation to the Parliament. We believe it's a case for renewal of "Operation Provide Comfort II" remains overwhelmingly persuasive, and we hope the Turkish Parliament will again vote to extend this mandate.
Q Excuse me. Don't you have any comment on the Greeks' position?
MR. BURNS: On the Greeks' position?
Q Yes. Greece -- PKK.
MR. BURNS: I can't speak for six Greek citizens. I don't want to comment on the actions of six Greek citizens. The Greek Government, of course, is committed as a NATO ally to certain standards of conduct, and I have no reason to question the conduct of the Greek Government.
If it's a question of Greek citizens, then I would need to know more about who these people are, what they said, and what they did, and I don't have that information.
Q Nick, there was a suggestion here yesterday that Syria had agreed to allow the Greek air force to use their bases for something. Have you all -- has the Administration sought any clarification on that?
MR. BURNS: I don't have any information on that today, Sid. No information.
Q Is the Administration trying to seek some sort of clarification about it?
MR. BURNS: I think we agreed that we would look into the matter, yes.
Q Nick, while you're in the general area, can you bring us up to date on Baghdad, the two Americans in jail, whether or not any packages have been sent in? Mr. Krystosik had the usual set of questions.
MR. BURNS: We unfortunately have very little information to give you. Mr. Krystosik has not been allowed to see the two Americans for over two months. That is a violation even of the stated Iraqi agreement, which we thought was unreasonable, to only allow him periodic access to the two Americans.
We believe that under normal diplomatic practice and also under international law, specifically the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, Iraq has a responsibility to allow our representative, Mr. Krystosik, access to these two people.
We regularly deliver through the U.S. Interests Section there, which is run by the Polish Government, packages to Mr. Daliberti and Mr. Barloon. Unfortunately, the messengers from the Interests Section are not allowed to hand the packages over personally. They are handed over by prison guards. We receive receipts supposedly signed by Mr. Daliberti and Mr. Barloon, but, of course, we have no way of knowing if the gentlemen have indeed received the packages in full or partially or if at all.
It is a very frustrating situation, and Iraq is behaving in an uncivilized way, an inhumane way.
Q Do you think Mr. Akashi might be able to make some headway in Iraq on this situation? (Laughter)
Q Nick, there's a Canadian company called Sherritt, which apparently believes that it's being placed on a U.S. commodities metal business unit, essentially barring it from selling Cuban refined nickel in this country. And the question I have is: Is this an indication that the U.S. Government is cracking down more on commercial interests - - businesses that do business in Cuba as a way of showing that it's being serious about the embargo on Cuba and trying to offset congressional efforts to impose more legislative and tighter sanctions?
MR. BURNS: It's a very complex issue, so if you'll bear with me, I'd like to go through it in a little bit of detail so that we can fully explain what the issue is. The Department of the Treasury has determined that three companies, formed as fifty-fifty joint ventures between Sherritt, Incorporated -- the company that you referred to, Carol -- and the Cuban Government are what we call "specially designated nationals of Cuba," and therefore are subject to the prohibitions and blocking authorities of the U.S. Cuban embargo.
The three joint ventures are Cobalt Refinery Company, Incorporated, International Cobalt Company, Incorporated, both of Alberta, and the MOA Nickel, which is located in Cuba. The Sherritt Corporation itself has not been named as a specially designated national because it does not meet the criteria.
The effect of this action is that the joint ventures will be considered for the purposes of U.S. law as entities of Cuba because of the fifty-fifty joint venture aspect. It will thus be illegal for U.S. firms to engage in transactions with these ventures unless specifically licensed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
A specially designated national is an entity that is owned or controlled by or acts directly or indirectly on behalf of the country against which the U.S. has an embargo -- in this case Cuba. The Department of the Treasury is the authority within the U.S. Government for reviewing the structure and behavior of joint ventures formed by foreign companies and the Government of Cuba. It has authority to determine whether these joint ventures should be treated under law as Cuban entities.
I understand that there are approximately 463 such entities, individuals, vessels, joint ventures around the world that have been designed as "specially designated nationals of Cuba." There are seven other Cuban "specially designated nationals" in Canada that have been identified and published previously.
This program has a wider application than just Cuba. It also is involved with our embargoes against Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, the former Yugoslavia, and against terrorist organizations that threaten the Middle East peace process. I believe in this wider application of the program, there are currently 2800 separate listings.
Treasury's action in designating the Sherritt subsidiary joint ventures as "specially designated nationals" was taken under the authority of the Trading with the Enemy Act and the Cuban Assets Control Regulations. These are consistent with American policy, which, as you know, is based on the Cuban Democracy Act.
Q But it doesn't suggest that there is a more aggressive effort by the U.S. Government to try to designate these companies and thereby rein in trade with Cuba because you're under pressure from Congress, would you say?
MR. BURNS: This is an effort to conform with U.S. law and to apply U.S. law in the case of Cuba, and it's a longstanding effort. It's not something that we've decided to do recently. I'm not aware that there's any special increase in the application and the intensity of the application of the law.
It's an ongoing effort which we believe is important to be consistent with U.S. law and with the thrust of American policy that has been agreed upon by both the Congress and the Executive Branch, and that's the Cuban Democracy Act.
Q Nick, do you have any readout on Ambassador Churkin --
MR. BURNS: Yes, I have a readout which is not, I think, comprehensive and is not detailed, but I think it might be helpful to you.
As you remember, Ambassador Churkin returned to Moscow the night before last. He met yesterday with the Contact Group Ambassadors, including Ambassador Tom Pickering.
He provided to the Contact Group Ambassadors a thorough readout of this talks in Belgrade and in Pale. It was clear from -- at least it's clear to us from his report that neither Mr. Milosevic nor Mr. Karadzic have altered their position on two of the key negotiating issues that are on the table. Specifically, it appears to us that Mr. Milosevic is still unwilling to accept anything short of a full lift of the sanctions rather than a partial suspension of the sanctions, which of course is the position of the Contact Group and strongly held position of the United States Government.
Secondly, Mr. Karadzic is still unwilling to accept as the basis for negotiations for peace in Bosnia the Contact Group Map and Plan. We are satisfied as a result of the briefing received yesterday that Ambassador Churkin's bilateral contacts were consistent with the Contact Group's efforts over the last couple of months. And certainly consistent with the agreement reached at the Contact Group Ministerial in Noordwijk, at which both Foreign Minister Kozyrev and Secretary Christopher participated.
As you know, membership in the Contact Group -- the Contact Group is an informal organization -- does not preclude bilateral contacts with parties to the conflict. Russia has now just finished a series of bilateral contacts. The United States has exercised this right. Ambassador Frasure did so recently on a number of occasions on behalf of our government.
The Russians described Ambassador Churkin's travels as a fact- finding mission and not as negotiation. Given the fact that we have received this briefing and that we understand what transpired, we're very thankful for it. We think it is one more indication that as we go through the transitional period in Bosnia, we must intensify the diplomatic talks.
There has got to be an effort to work both with Belgrade and Pale on these two negotiations that the Contact Group would like to engage in in an intensified way. But right now, as a result of these briefings, it does not appear that either Belgrade or Pale can contribute to any furthering of those negotiations. That is really a pity, and we hope very much that both will reconsider their decision.
Q Thank you.
MR. BURNS: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:37 p.m.)
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