U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/06/26 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Monday, June 26, 1995 Briefer: Christine Shelly DEPARTMENT Statement on Haiti's National Elections ..................1 Deputy Spokesman Christine Shelly: Thank You to the Press .................................................11-13 EGYPT Terrorist Attack Against President Mubarak in Ethiopia ...1-2 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS Israeli-Syrian Security Talks ............................2,4-5 Reports of Jewish Confiscation of Land on West Bank ......2-3 Violence in Occupied Territories .........................3-4 CHINA Process of Accession to the WTO ..........................5-6 Chinese Charge d'Affaires' Visit to State Department .....6 Detention of American Human Rights Activist Harry Wu .....6-8 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA War in Bosnia --Rapid Reaction Force: Funding; Congressional Consults ..9 --Legislative Proposals to Lift Arms Embargo .............9 CUBA Status of Former President Nixon's Nephew ................9-10 JAPAN U.S. Tariffs on Auto Imports/Aviation Sanctions/Kodak Case ..................................................10-11 CHAD Cable from U.S. Ambassador re: AID Mission ...............11
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, JUNE 26, 1995, 1:12 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'd like to begin with just a few short remarks about the Haitian elections. You got a briefing on that on Friday by a couple of special guests at the press briefing.
Yesterday, in elections assisted by the U.N., Haitians went to the polls for the first time since September 19, 1994, after the deployment of the multinational force.
The relative tranquility in which both the election campaign and yesterday's polling took place is a tribute to the Haitian people, to President Aristide's campaign of reconciliation, and the competence of U.N. peacekeeping forces.
Organizing nationwide elections, in which over 11,000 candidates ran for 2,000 offices, has been a major challenge. A Presidential observer delegation, headed by AID Director Brian Atwood, was in Port- au-Prince and has issued a statement on the conduct of the elections. This statement, for those of who have not seen it, is available in the Press Office. You can get copies after the briefing.
The next important benchmark will be Haitian Presidential elections which will take place at the end of this year in which we expect that the U.N. will play a similarly supportive role.
With that statement, I'd be happy to take your questions on this or on other subjects.
Q Do you have anything to say about the attack on President Mubarak in Ethiopia?
MS. SHELLY: Yes, I do. We were outraged by this terrorist attack against President Mubarak of Egypt.
We are pleased that President Mubarak has escaped unharmed from this cowardly and brutal attempt on his life. We are prepared to work closely with the concerned governments to ensure that the perpetrators of this criminal act are brought to justice.
We do not have enough information at this stage to assign responsibility for the attack.
The Ethiopian Government, I would note, in a statement condemning this heinous crime, indicated that an investigation was ongoing to establish the identity of those involved in the attack.
Q You don't have anything to back up Mubarak's suggestion that the attackers came from Sudan?
MS. SHELLY: We're not in a position to make that kind of judgment or statement at this point. I'm sure that any possible explanation for this will be pursued and investigated with vigor.
Q You say you all are helping them with the investigation?
MS. SHELLY: I didn't say specifically that we were helping them, but I said we certainly would be prepared to help in the investigation in any way that we could.
Q Syria and Israel get going tomorrow. Anything to get them kicked off?
MS. SHELLY: Sid, as you know on that particular one, we don't say a lot about the discussions which are going on. We certainly are still keenly committed to make those talks successful. When we have something we'd like to say about it publicly, we will do so but we certainly hope that there will be good progress to report, and we will do so as we can.
Q Christine, the since the meeting -- the talks -- will be under the aegis of the United States, I understand that there will be some briefings by their deputies. Do you have any idea about when or where the briefings will take place -- not by the principal participants, but their deputies?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have any information on that at this stage.
Q The Washington Post story this morning about "land grab" by settlers in the occupied territories in the West Bank --the Israeli Government is not deterring them or doing anything about this land grab, do you have any comment on that?
MS. SHELLY: We've seen the story, of course. I would go back to statements that are similar to what we've said before. The parties have agreed that settlements are a final status issue to be covered in the final status negotiations.
Our position all along has been that settlements are a complicating factor in the negotiations, but I don't think it would be productive for me to go beyond that at this point.
Q The act of taking land against even the agreed (inaudible) between the Palestinians and Israelis at this juncture, does this bode good or bad to the whole peace process that you see?
MS. SHELLY: I go right back to what I just said, which is that settlements are a complicating factor in the negotiations and they will be subject to the final status negotiations.
Q Another point in the area. Two Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and 50 people were injured during the demonstrations and protests about releasing the Palestinian prisoners who are detained -- about 5,000 or 6,000 of them. Do you have any comment on the escalation of violence in the occupied territories and even the self-government areas?
MS. SHELLY: Certainly, we've been watching the most recent developments with concern. Israel and the Palestinians are working intensively to try to resolve the remaining issues in an effort to reach agreement on Phase II of the Declaration of Principles. We have known from the beginning that extremists and those committed to sabotaging the peace process would continue to make every effort to do so.
We continue to believe that they must not be allowed to succeed. We urge the parties to remain focused and realistic as they negotiate implementation of Phase II, and we encourage them to move as quickly as possible to try and reach agreement.
Q You say extremists will attempt to disrupt the peace process. But these are two Palestinians who have been killed. Are you making some -- are you saying that they were killed by extremists?
MS. SHELLY: No. What I'm commenting on is the apparent increase in violence in recent days. There have been, of course, a number of different types of incidents. It perhaps is not possible to make a generalization about the origin of that.
But I think simply as a general statement, many of the acts of violence come from the actions of extremists. It's those actions which have as their intent sabotaging the peace process about which I was commenting more generally.
Q Christine, the two people -- the Palestinians -- were killed by regular Israeli army forces. Will you please be specific and call on the Israeli Government to cool it off and to possibly change the rules of engagement of firing on people demonstrating for the purpose of releasing their loved ones from Israeli jails?
MS. SHELLY: The issue of prisoners is obviously one that the parties are going to have to work out. Certainly, we're aware of the fact that some of the demonstrations were connected to that particular issue, but it is something that the parties are going to have to work out.
When we have concerns about actions on one side or another, we do discuss our concerns with the parties. We said at the end of last week that we also had concerns about the situation in southern Lebanon. We said at that time that we had had discussions and that we believe that all parties understood the need for restrain.
So this is a complicated situation. I think it's not the sort of situation that lends itself to a specific kind of condemnation of one side or the other. But we will continue to stay in close touch with the parties and express our concerns with them when we feel that it's appropriate to do so.
Q Can you say anything how these are going to -- the format for these talks are going to be? Are they going to meet in the morning? Are they going to break and meet in the afternoon? Where are they going to be -- so on and so forth?
MS. SHELLY: Sid, as you know from our past treatment of this, it's not the sort of thing that we put out a kind of detailed tick-tock on. It's the sort of thing that we let the meetings flow. There are different formats that they take sometimes, and I think that they'll meet whenever they feel it's useful to do so. But we're not likely to put out a kind of day-by-day schedule of expected meetings.
Q Can you at least say, is the Secretary going to be in the initial meeting? Is it going to be handed off to Ambassador Ross?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have any specific information on that. I'll be happy to check and see whether we'd like to be more specific regarding the Secretary's participation. But at this point, I don't have anything in particular to report.
Q Christine, are there any meetings today with either of the participants?
MS. SHELLY: There may be. I simply don't have a schedule of meetings.
Q Another subject?
MS. SHELLY: Sure.
Q There are indications from China that the Chinese Government may want the U.S. to facilitate its accession to the WTO as part of the compensation for President Lee Teng-hui's visit to this country. Do you have any comment on that?
MS. SHELLY: China's WTO accession is an issue which will stand on its own merits, and the factors related to that are not likely to be linked to any other type of issue.
We continue to actively and staunchly support China's efforts to negotiate an acceptable and commercially meaningful accession package. In July, we will again be meeting with the Chinese, both bilaterally and multilaterally to try to move the process forward.
As Ambassador Kantor said during his visit to Beijing in March, the U.S. approach to China's accession process is positive and flexible. We are willing to work with our Chinese partners on potential solutions that will address China's concerns while bringing China's trade regime into compliance with the requirements of the international trading system.
The WTO accession is a multilateral process. I would note that all of the members of China's working party must agree by consensus to the conditions of China's accession.
Q Was that previously scheduled?
MS. SHELLY: The July meeting? I think that there had been a number of meetings along the way. As you know, the multinational group is comprised of about 30 different countries. I think it's a reflection of those countries that are interested in the China trade issues.
It's my understanding that this is a group that has been meeting periodically along the way as they've taken up this issue. This may be the first time that this particular meeting has come up. I'm not sure. I'd be happy to check on that. It's a regular group that does meeting in Geneva from time to time to review the status of the issues related to China's WTO accession.
Q Is the U.S. more flexible now than before Lee Teng-hui's visit?
MS. SHELLY: There is no connection regarding the U.S. position and the visit of Lee Teng-hui visit. These are unrelated issues.
Q Another question: The new Chinese Charge d'Affaires came to the State Department last week. Could you brief us on that meeting?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have any details on that meeting, but I'll be happy to check and see if we can give some this afternoon.
Q Do you have anything to say about the apparent detention of Harry Wu?
MS. SHELLY: Yes, I've got something on that. We understand that American human rights activist Harry Wu tried to enter China on June 19, across the land border between Kazakhstan and China. We understand that Mr. Wu had a valid U.S. passport and Chinese visa when he was detained by Chinese border authorities in Horgas, China.
We have no additional information at present about his whereabouts or status. We are, of course, seeking additional information from Chinese authorities.
As a general policy matter, since he is an American citizen, he's entitled to Consular services from the U.S. Embassy or from one of our consulates. We have a Consular Agreement with China which provides for notification within 48 hours of the detention of an American citizen and for subsequent access by a U.S. Consular Officer. The Foreign Ministry Consular Department made a notification to our Embassy in Beijing on June 23.
As a practical matter, there are communication difficulties. It's long travel time and long distances between cities in China, and sometimes that results in a delay before the U.S. Consular Officials are notified of an arrest or a detention of American citizens.
Visits by U.S. Consular Officers also can be subject to those same factors. They sometimes take several days to arrange as a consequence of the distances and time involved. We try to expedite such visits and will do so certainly in Mr. Wu's case.
Q So I take it you all think it's a justified detention?
MS. SHELLY: Except for the fact that we have received the notification, I don't know how much additional detail we have. We certainly are trying to get all of the information that we can regarding the circumstances under which he was detained. So I think I certainly cannot pass a judgment until we have more information on that. In the context of our contacts with the Chinese, as we would with any American citizen, we will seek to ensure that he is treated fairly under Chinese law and released promptly, if possible.
Q What is your understanding as to why he is being held? Is he under arrest? Is he facing charges?
MS. SHELLY: I think the only information that we have at this point is simply information related to his detention. That is exactly the information -- the circumstances of that and certainly his whereabouts and any possible charges against him are all things on which we will be seeking clarification from Chinese authorities.
Q Can I clarify something? China did not meet the 48-hour deadline, is that correct? They were off by --
MS. SHELLY: What I said was that he tried to enter on June 19. We received the notification at our Embassy on June 23. So four days elapsed --
Q (Inaudible) excuses.
MS. SHELLY: I'm not making excuses. I'm recounting factually what happened, and I'm also commenting on the fact that occasionally because of the distances involved and time delays and also presumably falling of weekend days, and things like that, occasionally it does take a day or two longer for that notification. But the Chinese have informed us of the detention.
Q Doesn't the notification have to be made in person? I mean, you can't pick up a telephone -- they can't pick up a telephone or a fax.
MS. SHELLY: I don't know. I don't have specific information on how we were informed, but I'll be happy to check on that point.
Q Is the Consular Officer traveling to wherever Mr. Wu is now?
MS. SHELLY: I would expect that we will have a Consular Officer traveling. I don't have details to indicate at this point.
Q Did the Chinese indicate where he's being held?
MS. SHELLY: No. I just said that we did not have information about his whereabouts or status, and that's one of the types of information we're seeking.
Q Did the Chinese give the reason why he was detained in the notification?
MS. SHELLY: I've answered that one already.
Q Christine, given this man's history of imprisonment in China, you all sure seem to be dragging your feet. Why is there not more priority given to this case?
MS. SHELLY: I wouldn't say that there isn't priority given to this case. We were notified of this on June 23 and today is June 26 and a weekend has elapsed in the meantime. The Consular Affairs side works no these issues whenever they come up. Obviously, they are trying to get additional information. They've reported back to the Department on this so that we would be aware, and we are seeking additional information from Chinese authorities as soon as we can get it.
Q He's been a very public thorn in their side. Do you see this as a deliberate provocation or a deliberate action on their part?
MS. SHELLY: I simply feel that it would be irresponsible for me to jump to that kind of conclusion based on the information we have so far.
MS. SHELLY: Sure.
Q Can you describe what progress the Administration has had in trying to get congressional support to fund the Rapid Reaction Force?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything new beyond that which Nick discussed last week. The issue of funding is still something which is very much with us. It's an issue that we are going to continue work with the U.S. Congress on. As you know, generally it involves a package of equipment and financial support.
We're continuing our congressional consultations on this throughout the week, but I don't have anything new on this one.
Q At the end of the week or soon thereafter, it appears likely that Senator Dole will introduce a revised version of his resolution to lift the arms embargo on the Bosnians. Is the Administration trying to reach some kind of a compromise with congressional Republicans on that measure?
MS. SHELLY: We have seen reports, and I think at this point mostly press reports, suggesting that an action along the line that you've described might occur. But since it hasn't occurred yet, I wouldn't want to comment in specificity.
But one thing that we have discussed with Senator Dole and others up on the Hill is obviously the risks associated with lifting the arms embargo. I think our feeling on that certainly is still very much the same, but at this point I think we would want to take a look at any possible revision before we would wish to make a specific comment.
Q What can you say about Richard Nixon's nephew being detained in Cuba?
MS. SHELLY: There's not much new on this, I think, in the last couple of days or so except for some interviews, I think -- interview or interviews that Mr. Nixon had given over the course of the weekend.
We are not aware of specific charges having been brought against Mr. Nixon by the Cuban Government. He did inform the U.S. Interests Section that Cuban authorities were holding his U.S. passport.
U.S. Interest Section employees have made inquiries with Cuban authorities on Mr. Nixon's behalf. I think you may know from last week, Mr. Nixon has not signed a Privacy Act waiver which enables us to give any more details of meetings with him.
I can confirm that representatives of the Interests Section have met with him, but I am constrained by the absence of a privacy waiver from getting into a discussion of that meeting.
Q Christine, were his activities in Cuba entirely consistent with the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba?
MS. SHELLY: The Cuban Assets Control regulations of the U.S. Treasury require that persons who are subject to U.S. jurisdiction be licensed to engage in transactions related to travel to, from or within Cuba. As that's a specific licensing question, I would really have to refer you to the U.S. Treasury Department for specific questions on that.
Q You can't say whether or not he had a license?
MS. SHELLY: That's one I think that you would have to get from Treasury.
Q And his apparent association with Robert Vesco and the specifics of his activities -- you can't say whether or not that was legal?
MS. SHELLY: The judgment as to the legality of what he was up to - - I mean, what I can only do is make an inference based on what I've just said regarding the question about whether or not he's in violation of any U.S. law. And I don't really think that's my job to do. The question regarding violations of those requirements really is a Treasury issue.
He, himself, from interviews that he gave over the course of the weekend, indicated for what purpose he was in Cuba. Whether or not that would be defined as a "transaction" under the Cuban Assets Control regulations, I think that would be the issue as it would shape up, and again that would be up to Treasury to decide if his actions were actually in violation of that.
Q On the 28th of this month, the Administration seemed set to impose punitive tariffs on certain Japanese auto imports. Coincidentally, that day also sees the Enola Gay exhibit open at the Smithsonian Institution, and recently the Transportation Department has announced sanctions on Japanese aviation cargo carriers coming to this country.
It also seems that this week the USTR is going to announce an investigation of the Kodak case, investigating the Japanese photo film industry.
Is the Department concerned that this flurry of anti-Japan activity is putting at risk what it has said many times is its most important alliance?
MS. SHELLY: I don't think that there is any question about the value that we ascribe to our relationship with Japan. It is the cornerstone of our strategic position in East Asia and the Pacific, and even though we have trade difficulties right now, I think it's very clear that both nations must work to try to strengthen the economic relationship that we have to make it as mutually beneficial as a partnership on security and foreign policy.
As to the talks in Geneva, there obviously is a tremendous amount of focus on that. As you know, Ambassador Kantor arrived in Geneva on the evening of the 25th, and he's having meetings with his counterpart this evening.
All I can really say on that score is that both sides have agreed to make a maximum effort to try and reach an agreement before the June 28 deadline for sanctions arrives.
Q Christine, do you have any comment on your Ambassador to Chad's comments on the aid program there?
MS. SHELLY: As the subject of that report is an internal communication between the Ambassador and the Department. I'm simply not in a position to comment on such a communication, as it is our very strong policy that Ambassadorial communications or telegrams are not something that we get into a public discussion from here.
Q Senator Helms doesn't seem to feel that way about your communications. Do you have any comment on his actions?
MS. SHELLY: I think that there has been one comment already, if you're needing something to report, that's come out of AID on this one, but again I would think it would not be wise to add further to the exchange on this.
Q Do you have anything to say at your final briefing? Any words of wisdom for us?
MS. SHELLY: Since you ask -- (laughter) -- I don't get many opportunities to do that. I actually would be delighted -- since in all probability this is my last briefing here as the Deputy Spokesman, I would be delighted to make a couple of short remarks.
One is that having the experience in the State Department and certainly as a Foreign Service Officer of working directly with the press is not one that we get often enough, and it's been certainly a very, very valuable experience for me.
I think I've learned a great deal about public diplomacy and certainly dealing with the media, but I can also say that I did profit, I think, from some good advice from a predecessor who shall remain unidentified at this point. That sometimes when the going gets rough in this room, it's important to remember that what happens in this room is an exercise unto itself, and it shouldn't color one's views on dealing with the media out of the room. I think that was probably good advice.
Sometimes I think there is a frustration for a briefer that you leave after a given day, after a lot of effort by everyone in this building, and you've left the room with the impression that foreign policy is one issue and one issue only, like Bosnia, when in fact foreign policy is many different stories being told. We have a lot of good stories, I think, to tell in this building, and I think we all need to work harder to be sure that the non-Bosnias and the success stories of this building are being told.
I think there is a lot, especially in the functional bureaus, that is being done here and that's very, very valuable and relates directly to the American people. I think particularly I work on behalf of American citizens abroad. It's also a very good success story, and we should perhaps learn to tell it better.
So I think what I take from this is an effort to try to make sure that in future endeavors I make foreign policy in my own way relevant to the American people. I think that's important, and it's important that they understand in the larger sense what the State Department and what the Foreign Service does here, not only in our relations with foreign countries but certainly for American citizens here at home.
So let me thank you for the opportunity that I've had here. I have certainly enjoyed my contacts personally and professionally, and I've enjoyed the collaboration which I felt I have had with not only people in this building, who have produced reams of press guidance, but also with the press in what I think is an effort -- an endeavor we all share, which is to get out there and talk about foreign policy and to try to make it comprehensible to the American people.
So thank you for the opportunity.
Q What is your next assignment?
MS. SHELLY: I'm off to the Senior Seminar next year. But thank you very much. I very, very much appreciate the education that I've received, and I look forward to working with all of you in other endeavors.
Q Good luck!
MS. SHELLY: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:39 p.m.)
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