U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 95/07/07 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Friday, July 7, 1995 Briefer: Nicholas Burns DEPARTMENT--Statements/Announcements Secretary Christopher's Mtg. w/Mrs. Ella Logsden .......1 Atlantis-Mir Mission Arrival at Cape Canaveral .........1 UN International Meeting on Mine Clearance .............2,18-19 VIETNAM Normalization of Relations, POW/MIA Status Report ......2-6 CHINA/TAIWAN U.S.-China Relations ...................................5-6 Status of Consular Access to Harry Wu ..................6-9,11-15 Report of Letter from U.S. Businesses to State Department ...........................................8-9 Status of Code of Conduct for U.S. Businesses in China .9 Allegations of U.S. Sanctions Law/MTCR Violations ......9-10 Alleged U.S. Non-Compliance of Consular Convention .....10-13 Requests for Visas for Senior Taiwan Officials .........13 JAPAN Civil Aviation Talks ...................................14 --Secretary Christopher's Mtg. w/Japanese Delegation ...14,22-23 TURKEY Incursion into Northern Iraq ...........................16-18 --Use of U.S.-Supplied Weapons .........................16 Ambassador Holbrooke/Turkish Ambassador Gonensay Mtg ...23 Oil Pipeline Issue .....................................23-24 HAITI Resolution of Election Problems ........................19-20 INDIA Kashmir--Abduction of Two U.S., Two British Citizens ...20-22 CUBA U.S. Consultations w/UNHCR re: Cuban Migrants ..........22 BURMA Proposed Legislation to Ban U.S. Trade/Investment ......24 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA War in Bosnia Secretary Christopher/FM Sacirbey Mtg. .................24-25
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, JULY 7, 1995, 1:01 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing.
I want to begin today with a couple of positive notes about American foreign policy, before we get to our normal routine here. Mrs. Ella Logsdon, on July 8, 1995, will turn 100 years old. She's a remarkable woman. She came into the Department this morning to meet Secretary Christopher. She first began work at the Department in 1920, and she retired in 1955 as one of the highest ranking civil servants in this building. Tomorrow she celebrates her 100th birthday -- anniversary of her birth -- and Secretary Christopher wanted to congratulate on that and thank her for her service to the Department of State. He was very interested and pleased by his meeting with her today.
Second: You may know the President just called the crew of the Atlantis, which arrived this morning at Cape Canaveral in Florida. This was an exceedingly important event -- the Atlantis-Mir mission -- for U.S.-Russian relations over the last week.
We have ended the space war with Russia. The mission demonstrates that Americans and Russians can work together peacefully for progress in space. Now, we can turn our sights to building the international space station. We're not going to be building an American space station, and there will be no Russian space station. There will be an international space station in which both countries -- and in fact, a number of other countries -- contribute their technology and combine their efforts to explore space together in the next century.
This reflects, for a lot of us in this building, the great advances made in U.S.-Russian relations over the last four or five years. It's a very hopeful sign about those relations.
Third: Keeping up with the good news here, former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance led a U.S. delegation to the U.N.-sponsored International Meeting on Mine Clearance in Geneva this week -- Wednesday, Thursday, and today. That was a successful conference. It raised, I think, nearly a third of the funds that the United Nations believes is necessary to deal with the incredibly extensive problem of mines around the world.
There are nearly 100 million mines around the world which pose a threat on a daily basis to people all over the world -- in Afghanistan, in Cambodia, in Angola, in Egypt, and other places. The primary victims of these mines left over from wars and conflicts are children. The number of casualties that occurs every day and every week is staggering.
The United States this year will be spending $46 million to help the United Nations deal with this problem. At the conference, former Secretary Vance pledged on behalf of the Administration an additional $12.5 million for mine-clearance programs, coordinated by the United Nations.
I just thought I'd mention those three items. Now, I'll be glad to go to your questions.
Q Are you prepared to talk about Vietnam in terms of how well the Vietnamese have been cooperating lately in providing an accounting of missing American servicemen?
MR. BURNS: When Assistant Secretary Lord went to Vietnam a couple of months ago, he and the other officials accompanying him had a very good discussion with Vietnamese officials on this issue. They have brought back a report which the President, I understand, is now studying.
A lot of people in our government believe that we have reached a new level of cooperation with the Vietnamese on the issue of POWs and MIAs. That is a very important fact because both the Clinton Administration and the Bush Administration made the issue of POW/MIAs and progress on that issue the focal point of our relationship with Vietnam, and the focal point of a decision as to whether or not the United States could normalize its diplomatic relations after such a long time with Vietnam. I believe we ended diplomatic relations shortly after the battle of Dien Bien Phu in the 1950s.
That issue now has been studied by the Department of Defense, the Department of State, and other departments. It rests with the White House. I understand that the President will be looking at this issue shortly. Of course, it's only the President who can make this type of decision.
It's an important decision because Vietnam is a country of emerging importance in southeast Asia; certainly, an important country economically for the United States and other countries. There are a significant number of American companies that have business interests and that hope to have business investments in Vietnam.
It is an important country on a regional security basis in southeast Asia. It will soon become a member of the ASEAN group. Of course, the Secretary will be out in Brunei for the ASEAN meetings on August 1, 2, and 3 of this year. So it's an important decision; it's an important time in America's relationship with Vietnam. But this decision, of course, rests with the President.
Q Wait, wait, wait, that doesn't answer the question at all.
MR. BURNS: I thought I tried very hard to say something about Vietnam and what we're thinking about. Sorry, George.
Q The folks who think it's a bad idea to normalize say they really have not been very cooperative in providing an accounting. One group says that they've only provided the remains of eight Americans since the trade embargo was lifted almost a year and a half ago. Do you have any numbers there?
MR. BURNS: I don't have any numbers. This report that was brought back by Assistant Secretary Lord and his Pentagon counterparts is with the President. At the appropriate time, I'm sure the results of this report will be made public. I don't have it available to me today.
You're right, George, in focusing on the issue because it is the most important issue that the Administration must consider as we consider the issue of normalization.
Q Nick, I wish I had brought the President's quotation along with me when he lifted the trade embargo on February 3, 1994. He said "The next step, diplomatic relations, would require that everything that can be done has been done." I think that's pretty much what he said on the missing Americans. Is there a conclusion?
You spoke of a lot of people -- sure, there are people who feel otherwise as well. Does at least the State Department, number one, feel, and unanimously feel, that everything that can be done has been done?
MR. BURNS: Barry, as you know, the State Department has looked at this question together with the Pentagon. There are some recommendations before the President. I'm not willing to talk about the recommendations that the Secretary and other people have made. I'm just going to have to leave this one to the White House. When there is a Presidential decision, we'll be in a position to talk more fully about this issue.
Q I understand. But don't misunderstand me. I'm not asking you to go where you can't go on a Presidential decision.
Winston Lord, and other State Department people, have very much involved in the MIA issue. I just wondered if Secretary Lord and the people working with him are now convinced that Vietnam has done everything that can be done to locate the remains of all missing Americans?
MR. BURNS: I think I will limit myself to saying that we believe that there has been an increased level of performance and cooperation on this issue. I really can't answer your specific question, Barry, because that does get at the question -- since you have remembered that the President put that as the logical question that had to be answered in order to make the decision on normalization, that does get directly to that question. That also gets us to whatever recommendations have been made and to the fact that there is only one person in this government who can this decision, and the decision rests with the President.
Q What makes Vietnam an important regional security -- an important issue for regional security?
MR. BURNS: I think it's well known, given the history of Vietnam, its role in southeast Asia, given the size of its population, its location, and the role it aspires to play in southeast Asia. That has a lot to do with our relations with other countries in the region. Certainly, it has something to do with the Spratlys dispute, which is a major dispute in which we have a continuous interest.
So there's no question that Vietnam is an important power regionally. Also, there's no question that it's one of the emerging, growing economic powers in southeast Asia. So therefore there is considerable interest in this country and in other countries about Vietnam.
Q What would you say to those who say that Vietnam would be an important ally as a hedge against Chinese expansionism?
MR. BURNS: Oh, I wouldn't put it in those terms. I wouldn't put it in those terms at all because we have a policy towards China which is grounded in engagement. The President and the Secretary have talked about that many times. That was a decision made at the beginning of this Administration -- way back in 1993 -- that that should be the proper posture for the future of U.S.-China relations. So I would never describe U.S.-Vietnamese relations in that fashion.
Q Is there any concern that were there to be recognition of Vietnam it might further deteriorate U.S.-Chinese relations?
MR. BURNS: I think U.S.-Chinese relations will stand on its own merit and its own foundations. The foundations are clearly strong. The U.S. and China have a mutual interest, given our respective sizes and given the power of the military and economic power of both countries. We have a continuing, mutual interest in getting along and building good relations.
I think our relationship with China should be seen to be a unique relationship which stands on its own. That does not mean, of course, that the United States is not interested in developing relations with other countries in the Pacific. We certainly are. We're a Pacific power, and we want to get along with all the major countries of the Pacific, and that includes Vietnam.
Q Nick, it takes two to have diplomatic relations. Has Hanoi told the United States it wishes to have relations with the United States -- full diplomatic relations?
MR. BURNS: I don't know whether or not there's been an active demarche -- diplomatic communication to that effect. I just don't know. As you know, we have a Liaison Office in Hanoi. I just don't know if they've received that direct message. I can look into that.
Q Also, you mentioned the Secretary is going to Brunei in the early part of August. Would it be fair to assume that there will be a Presidential decision on Vietnam relations before then; and (2) if there is one, then the Secretary could be expected to go to Vietnam?
MR. BURNS: On the first question, I think it's fair to assume that given the fact we've received this recent information on the status of the POW/MIA search and that that has been forwarded to the White House, I think it's fair to assume that the time has probably come for some type of decision.
On the second question, we'll just have to wait and see. We'll have to wait and see on that question.
Q Would you care to respond to Speaker Gingrich's comment that it's not the time to be cozying up to dictators?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe it's a question of cozying up to dictators. It's a question of serving America's national interests in the Pacific, and we have considerable vital national interests in the Pacific.
Q Nick, could I ask you a question about the statement you made on the mines that you -- the second statement?
MR. BURNS: Yes. We will just stay on Asia, and then I'll be very glad to go to that question.
Q On China, Nick, is there anything new in the Harry Wu matter, and do you think that the Chinese actions in recent weeks show or indicate the same feeling about mutual powers, that you keep saying from the podium every day -- about engaging with them? They seem to be disengaging.
MR. BURNS: Let me take the second part first. I do believe that China understands the importance of U.S.-China relations and that China in the long term will be committed to building strong U.S.-China relations. That is the consistent message that we have received from the Chinese Government for a long time.
We clearly are in a difficult period in our relations because of several factors, and we're confident that if we continue to stress the importance of direct communications and of diplomatic exchanges, sooner or later we'll return to the stage where we can have good communications and some progress in U.S.-China relations.
On the issue of Mr. Wu, we have said before that we would raise this case on a daily basis with the Chinese Government. We continue that today. In Beijing this morning, the American Consul General, the head of our Consular Section at the Embassy, Mr. Arturo Macias, met with one of his counterparts in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding our continuing abiding interest in access to Mr.Wu.
While I can't go into the specifics of our exchange, Consul General Macias received some encouraging signals this morning regarding our request for consular access to Mr. Wu. We'll wait to see if these signals materialize in concrete and positive actions, and we'll wait over the next couple of days to hope that we'll be able to have access to Mr. Wu as our Consular Convention dictates.
Q But we still don't know where he is. We still don't have access.
MR. BURNS: We don't know where he is. We have not had access to him. We have not received from the Chinese Government an explanation of why he's being held.
We did receive some encouraging signs this morning in the conversation that perhaps access will be permitted under the Consular Convention. That's certainly our expectation.
Q What kind of encouraging signs?
MR. BURNS: I don't really care to go into the specifics of Mr. Macias' exchange. I don't think that would be helpful to the situation. We did want to let you know that we're working on it, and that we think we may be making some limited progress. But I think what's important to emphasize here is that actions are going to be the most important indication of good faith on this issue.
Q Is Mr. Parish for the time being staying where he is?
MR. BURNS: Yes. Mr. Charles Parrish, who is the American Consul who made his long march into western China -- (laughter) -- the other day remains in western China and will become the resident U.S. expert on western China. He retreated from Horgas. He is now in Urumqi, back in Urumqi. Since we continue to believe and assume that Mr. Wu is being held in western China, Mr. Parrish has been asked to stay in western China so that when we are told by the Chinese Government -- we hope this is going to be soon -- where Mr. Wu is being held, Mr. Parrish will be dispatched to that city, to whatever guest house or hotel or whatever facility there is, to see him and to assure ourselves that Mr. Wu is okay.
Once that happens, we'll begin to work again on the question of an immediate release so that Mr. Wu will be permitted to leave China to return to his home in California.
Q Nick, do you have a clearer sense now, as a result of the conversations this morning, as to who exactly or which entity is holding Wu?
MR. BURNS: We're very certain it's not the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, because we've been told that by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and we assume it's one of the security ministries.
Q (Inaudible) -- but you do not --
MR. BURNS: I think we have a fairly good indication that it's one of the security ministries. I'm not sure we have a specific indication of who it is, and we certainly don't know where he's being held, but that's our belief now.
Q Nick, in yesterday's Wall Street Journal there was an article reporting that several U.S. businesses with interests in China had sent a letter to the Department, encouraging the Department of State not to reportedly play politics in its relationship with China but recognize the serious fundamental interests that the U.S. has in China.
Also, apparently the letter told about certain actions that the Chinese have taken against U.S. businesses, particularly since the Lee Teng-hui trip, specifically United Technologies had a high-level meeting scheduled with Chinese officials to discuss possible engine sales to Chinese airlines which was apparently canceled. There seems to be some widespread feeling among U.S. businesses that Washington is being wrong- headed in its decisions on certain micro-issues in the U.S.-China relationship, such as the Lee Teng-hui visit.
MR. BURNS: The case of Harry Wu is not a micro-issue. It's a major issue because he's an American citizen who traveled on a legitimate American passport, had a legitimate Chinese visa. The United States Government has a few fundamental obligations overseas. We have an obligation to protect our vital interests overseas. We have a fundamental obligation to protect American citizens when they're in trouble. We don't believe those are micro-issues. We don't believe they are insubstantial issues.
He is a celebrated person. He's well known. He's done a lot of work that people think is worthwhile; and we have an obligation to defend him, to try to protect him, and now to try to seek his release. That's a major issue of concern that everybody in this government, from the top officials on down, are concerned with. In no way do I want to apologize for that.
I have seen reference to this particular letter. I have not seen the letter. I don't know if it's been received here in the Department. I would simply say that our approach to China is not a political approach. We're not playing games. We are not politicizing this relationship.
On the issue of Harry Wu, we're seeking justice for an American citizen on the issue of U.S.-China relations in general. We're seeking a strong and stable relationship. We are not politicizing this issue. We're not canceling meetings. We're not making threats. We're not seeking recriminations. We're seeking a strong and stable relationship. I think that's fairly clear for everyone to see.
Q Nick, speaking of those poor whining multinational corporations, when the MFN decision was made last year, those same corporations pledged to come up with a code of conduct for doing business in China. What is the status of that? I understand that they have refused to do it.
MR. BURNS: Sid, I don't know what the status of that is. I'll be glad to look into it for you.
Q Would you, please?
MR. BURNS: Yes. Steve.
Q Nick, is it correct that the President has to make some sort of finding on this whole issue of the MTCR, like tomorrow or the next day? And, if that is true, do you know what the decision looks like and what kind of recommendations are coming from the State Department on that issue?
MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that the President has to make a finding or any decision or any determination on this issue. I believe that authority for this issue in fact has been delegated to the Department of State and can be made here.
Just to review our position again, these allegations that surfaced in The Washington Post earlier this week are more than a year old. We do take them seriously. They are under review, and they have been the subject of many discussions between the United States and China, and that will continue.
However, given our understanding of the information available to us, we are not yet at the point where we can make a determination that China has in fact violated either U.S. sanctions law or the Missile Technology Control Regime. That is a decision that does rest here in the Department of State, and I don't believe that the President at this point needs to -- is required to get involved in it.
I'm not aware of anything that is imminent about the President having to make a decision on this issue. I could be wrong, but I haven't heard of anything.
Q I wasn't sure. I just heard that. But does the Department itself -- is there some point by which the Department has to make a decision or can it just drag on indefinitely?
MR. BURNS: I can look into that. There may be reporting requirements, as there often are to Congress. Sometimes the legislation is written in such a way that on a periodic basis you have to make a report -- whether or not there has been a transgression, whether or not the issue of sanctions comes up. I could look into that. I don't think it's a problem in trying to give you a sense of the bureaucratics that are involved.
But having talked to a number of people who do have responsibility for this issue this past week, I'm not aware that we are on the verge of a decision here, and I would just like to emphasize that these are old charges, and that we're not aware of any new information that would change our current position on this issue.
Q Nick, still on Asia, can you tell us what's happening at these U.S.-Japan air talks -- civil aviation talks?
Q Can we stay on China?
MR. BURNS: Okay. Do you mind if we stay on China? Then we'll come back to your question.
Q Nick, did you look into the two cases on which China accused the United States of violating the Consular Convention?
MR. BURNS: Yes. After we saw the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman's statement yesterday, we did check into it, and I can report to you that local officials in New York and Philadelphia -- the two cities in which the two young men were apparently killed -- local authorities in New York and Philadelphia have not notified the Department of State of the deaths of two Chinese nationals -- the two referred by name in the Chinese Government statement.
Whenever the death or detention of a Chinese national is brought to the attention of the State Department, we immediately notify the Embassy of China here in Washington. We make every effort to make sure that local authorities in the United States are aware of the requirements of our own Consular Agreements -- in this case the U.S.-China Consular Convention. It does occur. We have a big country. We have a decentralized form of government. It does occur from time to time that foreigners are killed or detained in one part of the country and the Federal government is not made aware of that. We have no record of having been apprised of the deaths in the winter of '94 or March of '95 of these two individuals.
The United States has not violated the Consular Convention. We have paid very close attention to it, and at every opportunity have done our best to comply with that agreement.
Q The Consulate in New York said that they had sent a letter to the Department of State on May 10, without receiving any response.
MR. BURNS: I checked with our Consular Affairs Bureau and with our East Asia and Pacific Affairs Bureau, the two relevant bureaus that might have been apprised by either local authorities or in this case the Chinese Consulate in New York.
Neither of those bureaus has any record or any memory or any knowledge of these two incidents. We do take seriously our obligations under the Consular Convention.
Having said all this, let me just remind you that these two examples are not exactly analogous and pertinent to the question of Harry Wu. Here in the case of Harry Wu, we have a very clear-cut case of an American citizen traveling on an American passport with a Chinese visa who has been detained for no specific reason and who's been denied access to the U.S. Government and we to him. That is the pertinent question in U.S.-China relations today.
Q Can I follow up on that? Acknowledging that these cases are different, however, it sounds to me like in fact while the United States may not have willfully violated the Consular Convention, it in fact had, because local officials had not either known or taken care to follow through with their requirements under the Consular Convention, which is to notify you guys of something that happened.
MR. BURNS: We are looking into both cases. We've had 24 hours to do so. So far we've not come up with anything. If in fact these two individuals did die, and if they were Chinese nationals, and if the Chinese Embassy here or the Consulate in New York wanted to take some action about disposition of remains, then yes, the United States and local authorities in these two cities and the Federal Government has a responsibility to facilitate that.
In this case, the State Department was unaware of either the deaths or of a request, as far as I know and as far as I've been told. This is different than the case of an individual who we know is detained -- the Chinese Government told us he was detained on June 19 -- and who has been denied access to us.
There is a difference here. The difference is that in the case of Harry Wu, both governments understand that there is a problem, that someone's been detained. One of the governments has decided that it's not going to say why he's being held or, following the Consular Convention, give us access.
That is very different than the case which is quite murky, where local officials may have been more involved -- certainly were more involved than the Federal Government here in the United States.
Q And you received no communication from the Chinese Government about these two individuals?
MR. BURNS: What I'm saying is that I was told this morning as I prepared for this briefing that we had not received any information and in fact had no knowledge of the deaths of these two individuals or of any communications made to us. In the interests of fairness, we'll continue to look into this. We'll continue to search our records and search the memories of those people who would be involved in this kind of thing. We're willing to do that, because we do want to be fair about applying the Consular Convention.
Q But you can't even verify, though, that these two cases are what the Chinese say they are.
MR. BURNS: I'm trying to be fair to the Chinese Government in this particular instance. If they say that these two individuals died, that they contacted us, we'll take that at face value, and we'll look into it. I have no information on these two individuals, and we'll continue to seek information on them. I think we're showing good faith in the case of these two young men who were killed.
Q Just to clarify, though, even if the local police had informed you of this, your obligation to China would only kick in if the Chinese made a request, right, under the Consular Agreement?
MR. BURNS: I'm just now going on my own instincts. I think it would be normal diplomatic and humanitarian practice if the State Department was informed of the death of a Chinese national in New York, I think we'd take it upon ourselves to let the relevant Embassy authorities know that. That to me would seem to be a normal, logical course of action. I don't know why we would withhold that information.
But since I have no information about these two cases, I really can't tell you much more than I've told you.
Q Granted, and I understand that. But insofar as the Chinese accusation that the U.S. has violated the Consular Agreement, which was an accusation they made yesterday, that's only true if they had made a request, right?
MR. BURNS: It would only be true, I think, if we had knowledge and if they had made -- (1) if we had knowledge, and (2) if they had made a request that we had spurned. And I'm not aware that we had knowledge. I've been told we don't have any knowledge, number one. And, number two, until the question was asked, I wasn't aware that there had been a request made by the Chinese Consulate.
But in the interests of fairness, since China believes this is a problem, we will look into the problem. We will communicate with the Chinese Government on this problem, and we'll do our best to get to the root of the story of these two young men.
We would hope that China would also do its best to give us access to Harry Wu and to release him. That is what we want in the case of Harry Wu, and I just want to make a point again -- not that we have to continue this debate -- I don't think that these two situations that have been posited are analogous. I don't think it's fair to compare them, because the case of Harry Wu is clear-cut.
Q Nick, have you received any requests for visas by senior Taiwanese officials to participate in the function on Capitol Hill for Madame Chiang?
MR. BURNS: No. We looked into this question. We're not aware there have been any requests for visas for that particular function.
Q Nick --
MR. BURNS: I think Jim had a question.
Q On civil air talks with Japan.
MR. BURNS: The civil aviation talks, which center around the United States' interest in making sure that Federal Express has a fair entry into the Japanese market, continue here. They're in their third day. They're ongoing, so I can't speak yet about results. Perhaps we can do that by the end of today if we're lucky.
Secretary Christopher met with the Japanese delegation to these talks yesterday to demonstrate the value he places personally on reaching an agreement on civil aviation here in Washington. The Secretary told the Japanese delegation that they must first recognize the rights of Federal Express under our bilateral civil air agreement, and, when they do that, the United States would then be willing to discuss other civil aviation issues that are of interest to Japan and the United States.
The talks are continuing today. We are hoping for positive results. They have been good talks -- serious and businesslike -- but I can't handicap them for you. We'll have to wait until the conclusion of the talks to see if the two sides -- if the U.S. and Japan do reach an agreement.
Q Are Japanese companies seeking similar, parallel landing rights in this country, compared to Federal Express in Japan?
MR. BURNS: The central issue that we are bringing to the talks is the case of Federal Express, which we think is a very clear case in terms of market access. There are a number of other issues that are on the agenda -- the civil aviation agenda -- between the two countries. I don't have any specific information on them, but I know it's a full agenda.
As the Secretary said, once the Japanese recognize the rights of Federal Express under the bilateral civil aviation agreement, then we'll be prepared to talk about some of these other issues. But for the United States, the issue of Federal Express is front and center in these negotiations.
Q Nick, I know that the Secretary has weighed in on behalf of Federal Express. How come he hasn't weighed in on behalf of Harry Wu, at least publicly?
MR. BURNS: The Secretary is personally involved on the issue of Harry Wu. He is personally interested on a daily basis, several times a day, in what is happening in the Harry Wu case. He personally instructed Under Secretary Tarnoff to call on the Chinese Charge last Monday on July 3. He's very much involved in this.
He is leading our efforts to try to resolve this question. He's been in touch with Senator Helms, Senator Pell, Representative Pelosi and others on a more than daily basis. So we think that we are doing everything we can to achieve a successful resolution of this problem.
Q At any point during this saga, has the Secretary of State spoken with a Chinese official about it?
MR. BURNS: I'm not going to go into the details of our diplomatic conversations with the Chinese Government. It's not helpful. There are certain things that we prefer to conduct in private, and we'll continue that.
Q I'm not asking for details of this conversation, just whether he has spoken with a Chinese official about it.
MR. BURNS: I don't believe he's spoken with a Chinese official. He was not in the room when Peter Tarnoff called in the Chinese Charge on Monday or when Win Lord called in the same Charge last Wednesday -- a week ago Wednesday. But the Secretary is the one who -- he's the chief policy-maker in this Department, and now he has been giving instructions on this case to both Under Secretary Tarnoff and Assistant Secretary Lord. He's very much in charge of this case.
He takes it seriously, and I think the Chinese Government understands that the Secretary has a personal interest. That was the point of calling in the Chinese Charge on Monday, and Under Secretary Tarnoff began his demarche, his discussion with the Charge, by saying the Secretary has a personal interest and has asked me this morning to call you in today to talk to you about this.
So I think the most important thing is the Chinese Government is aware of the very strong interest by Secretary Christopher.
Q But you say he hasn't spoken to one, leading up to the question, has he written a letter?
MR. BURNS: I'm just not going to go into the details of the Secretary's diplomatic activities on this particular issue.
Q Different question.
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q Nick, do you have anything on the Turkish incursion into Iraq yesterday, and I have a follow-up.
MR. BURNS: Turkish officials told Ambassador Marc Grossman, the United States Ambassador in Ankara, this morning that the purpose of the incursion by Turkey into northern Iraq was to protect against a cross- border attack by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party, otherwise known as the PKK.
The PKK attack inside Turkey on June 15 and June 21 resulted in 25 Turkish casualties, and it's our understanding that Turkey learned that the PKK was staging for another major cross-border operation.
We understand that the current incursion by the Turkish military involves roughly one to two thousand troops, supported by air and artillery units, which have penetrated as much as six kilometers into northern Iraq, and casualties thus far, as reported by the Turkish Government, are roughly 90 PKK guerrillas killed. We have no word on Turkish losses.
The Government of Turkey has assured us that it is making every effort to minimize harm to civilians in northern Iraq, including the use of forward air controllers and visual confirmation of targets by aircraft.
The Turkish Government has further stated that the troops are now leaving northern Iraq, and that the operation should be finished in a few days. We understand that the humanitarian operations under "Provide Comfort" have continued throughout this latest incursion.
You had a follow-up, Betsy.
Q Yes. Are we concerned that U.S. arms are being used in these sweeps?
MR. BURNS: Let me speak to that. Let me just make one point before I get to it. As we previously indicated when there was a similar operation in March, a country under the United Nations charter has the right in principle to use force to protect itself from attacks from a neighboring country if that neighboring state is unwilling or unable to prevent the use of its territory for such attacks. That is a legal definition that gives a country under the U.N. Charter the right to use force in this type of instance.
That is certainly the case with northern Iraq. Above the 36th parallel, of course, is "Operation Provide Comfort." And while we recognize Iraqi sovereignty throughout this area, we don't believe that the Iraqi Government has shown the responsibility to be able to assure the welfare of the people of northern Iraq; therefore there is no governing entity that has been able to prevent these attacks from the PKK. It has been up to Turkey to protect itself from them.
So we fully support all legitimate Turkish efforts to combat the PKK, which, as we've noted several times, is a vicious and deadly terrorist organization that poses a genuine threat to security within Turkey.
The second question, Betsy, that you had is on the use of U.S.- supplied weapons. The use of U.S.-supplied weapons by allies for legitimate self-defense is acceptable under United States law. We would characterize this situation as legitimate self-defense under the U.N. Charter.
Q Follow that, Nick. The Iraqi Government has filed a complaint or requested from the Turks to leave that territory as soon as possible, and are you concerned about the possibility of some confrontation between the Iraqis and the Turks over this incursion?
MR. BURNS: Since March and April of 1991 -- perhaps April 1991 to be more specific -- Iraq has not had the right to deploy military forces above the 36th parallel, for obvious reasons, because Iraq in March and April of 1991 -- let's remember this -- tried to annihilate the Kurdish population of northern Iraq. It and was prevented in doing so by the United States military and by the Government of Turkey.
That's the reason we established "Operation Provide Comfort." Again, while we do recognize Iraqi sovereignty in the area, we do not believe that Iraq by its past actions or present inclinations can be considered to be a responsible power to protect the Kurdish and other populations of northern Iraq.
Therefore, we and the Turks and the Kurds and everyone, who are operating there, are in a very difficult situation. There is a terrorist group operating in northern Iraq which uses the terrain of northern Iraq and the lack of a governing authority to promote and conduct very serious threats -- terrorist attacks inside Turkish borders against Turkish civilians and Turkish military personnel and other civilian official personnel.
That's not right. It is something that is a genuine threat to the security of Turkey. We support Turkish actions in this regard.
Q You seem to be getting into a couple of points of international law. Would an Iraqi attack on Turkish troops trigger a response by NATO?
MR. BURNS: I simply don't want to walk down that road. I think it's unlikely. It's perhaps an interesting area to talk about at another time. We're dealing here with a different situation, and that is attacks by Kurdish PKK terrorists against Turkey. That's the relevant situation, and we've made a comment based on that situation.
Q Nick, what about the mines that you mentioned the statement, that you read. Does the United States Government expect the formation of a multinational alliance to come out from this United Nations conference in Geneva, which will go in full swing to clear the mines around the world?
MR. BURNS: What we hope will emerge from the conference in Europe over the last couple of days is that there will be adequate international funding to deal with the daily threat to civilians all over the world from mines that have been in some cases there for decades.
I think I noted last week in the case of Egypt, there are mines there left over from the German -- from Rommel's campaigns in North Africa, and there are mines left over from the War of Attrition in the early 1970s on the Red Sea. There are mines in Cambodia, Afghanistan, Angola, all over the world.
Unfortunately, a lot of the victims here are children who don't know what they're picking up when they discover a mine.
So the goal here is to raise a significant amount of money to fund de-mining efforts all over the world. Second, to form a multinational alliance or coalition to make sure that countries that are emerging from warfare, from civil wars, from international wars, have the assistance of the United Nations in dealing with this problem promptly. Because in many cases, countries have not been able to deal with these problems through lack of funds; sometimes through lack of maps, because the armies have retreated.
Q Do you expect most of the United Nations peacekeeping forces to be active participants in the clearing of these mines, since they are familiar with the conflict areas?
MR. BURNS: I think that will depend on the particular situation. There are nearly 100 million mines in, over 40 or 50 countries around the world; perhaps more -- 62 you say -- therefore, I think there is no one response that the United Nations can make. It will depend on local conditions.
Q The election results due to be published, or the first results in Haiti tomorrow, nearly two weeks after the voting took place. I think more than 20 or 27 parties that took place in the elections have called for the process to be annulled.
Does the United States, as the party which was the main financial backer of the elections, still have confidence in the process?
MR. BURNS: We expected that the results would be a long time coming because the counting of ballots is by hand, it's not by machine as it is in the United States and other countries.
We've made clear from the beginning that these elections were less than perfect. I think that's obvious to everyone. At the same time, they were the freest elections, in our judgment, and the least violent elections in Haitian history.
They were certainly elections in which the Haitian people, for the most part in most voting locations, felt free to vote and free of the threat of violence and intimidation which characterized many of the prior elections in Haitian history.
We believe the elections were a positive step, even with their imperfections. The Haitians have now decided that they will move toward run-offs in those districts where they thing run-offs are required. Clearly, remedial steps will have to be taken in some cases where there may have been irregularities in the voting.
The Haitian Government, led by President Aristide, have pledged themselves to consider solutions to resolve those problems in certain districts. But the vast bulk of the 700 races that took places were without significant incident, and the results, of course, we think should go forward.
Some of these local elections were seriously flawed and, as the Haitians have determined, will have to be redone, but we think the Haitians did rather well if you look at this election, as it should be properly viewed, in the context of the environment in Haiti and in the history of Haiti.
Q One of the groups which certainly wasn't pleased with the results was the International Republican Institute. The Republicans say they're going to hold hearings about the elections. Are you worried that they may try to cut U.S. aid to Haiti? And what effect would that have?
MR. BURNS: The IRI is free to do what it would like to do since it was present. (Inaudible) It was not intentional. Believe me. There's no association there.
The IRI is free to do what it would like to do, based on its own monitoring of the elections. I would note, however, that there were many, many international groups, not just from the United States, but from countries all around the world, who I think came to roughly the same conclusion that we did; that these were imperfect elections, but in the context of Haiti, were a major step forward for the Haitian people.
I just remind you, the last time Haiti had an election, military figures emerged to annul the results of those elections. Haiti has certainly come a long way since then.
This Administration will continue to make a case to the Congress and to the American people that it's in our interest to continue economic assistance, assistance for elections for the Haitian people; that the Haitian people have rid themselves of a dictatorship. They now have a functioning democracy which is highly imperfect, as are all democracies. It's a young democracy, but it's worth nurturing.
It would be a terrible mistake to withdraw United States support -- economic support, financial support -- for the Haitian people at a time when they're struggling to put in place, in cement, the foundations of their democracy.
Would that meet American national interests? Would that encourage the democrats in Haiti? Or would it encourage autocrats who remain in the wings throughout Haiti? We think the former, not the latter.
Q Do you have a statement or any word on the three Americans, I understand, and a Brit that are being held in Kashmir today?
MR. BURNS: I have a little bit of information. There were two Americans who were kidnapped in Kashmir 48 hours ago, and I believe two Brits with them.
Our Embassy in New Delhi has sent a Foreign Service officer to Srinagar to coordinate with the Indian Government on this matter.
Ambassador Frank Wisner, who is our outstanding American Ambassador in Delhi, is continuing to work closely with high levels of the Indian Government on a resolution of the matter.
The abduction of these individuals remains a matter of deep concern to us. We're hoping for an early and peaceful outcome.
We very much appreciate the cooperation we've received from the Indian Government. At this time, out of concern for the safety of the individuals involved, we don't want to provide a lot of detailed information on the Indian Government's investigation.
I would just note that -- I believe the press has the names of the two individuals, the two Americans -- who have been taken prisoner in the situation.
There is a group, the J.K. al-Faran organization, that has claimed responsibility. I understand it is a Moslem organization that has been active in that area, and it did take some prisoners about a year ago in roughly the same area of Kashmir.
So right now we're placing our hopes and cooperation on the Indian Government, and we're supporting the Indian Government in what it's doing to try to resolve this matter.
Q How dangerous does the American Government feel this group may be at this point? Any word at all on their conditions or whereabouts?
MR. BURNS: I don't believe we have a lot of information or perhaps not any information on the condition of the Americans or the Brits that are being held. We don't know much about this particular organization that claims to hold them.
Q With Americans being kidnapped in Kashmir, should the Indian Government take some steps to restrict tourist travel there? I understand they were mountaineers, trekkers?
MR. BURNS: That's up to the Indian Government to decide. There have been problems in this area before. We have made that clear to Americans who are traveling in the area. There were problems last year not with Americans but with other foreign nationals, and there's a major problem now with two Americans.
Q Nick, is the United States trying to get the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees to take care of Cuban boat people on the way to the U.S.?
MR. BURNS: I believe that was an erroneous report in the article this morning in the papers. As I understand it, when we announced our change of policy on May 2, we consulted with the UNHCR. We did not ask the UNHCR to accompany INS officers on board the Coast Guard vessels where the Cuban migrants have an opportunity to state their case -- any fear of persecution.
We certainly believe that INS officers are capable people, and they can meet international standards. We just wanted, in our conversations with the UNHCR, to let them know that we did have in mind that international standards had to be met and that we were committed to them.
We've worked very closely with the UNHCR on this whole issue, but we've not asked them to help us question the Cuban migrants on board U.S. vessels.
Q The aviation talks?
MR. BURNS: Yes.
Q I want to clarify the Secretary's comment. Does he mean that if Japan accepts the Fed case, the U.S. will be willing to renegotiate the aviation pact itself?
MR. BURNS: No, I didn't say that. I think the Secretary was very careful to say yesterday that the Japanese Government must first recognize the rights of Federal Express under the existing bilateral civil aviation agreement that is in place between the United States and Japan.
Once the Government of Japan had recognized Federal Express' rights, then we would be prepared to address the other issues pertaining to civil aviation that are on our agenda and that are of interest to the Government of Japan. I don't believe the Secretary made a commitment to renegotiate the existing agreement.
Negotiations right now are going on this building, so I don't really want to say too much more. I don't want to prejudice them; I don't want to misspeak, based on the fact that you and I are not in the room as these negotiators are meeting.
Q Nick, about Turkey again. Yesterday, the Turkish Prime Minister's chief advisor, Ambassador Gonensay, met with Assistant Secretary Holbrooke. Did they discuss about this last operation -- the Turkish operation to Iraq, first? The second one, the main issue I believe is the oil route -- early oil route. Did they have any result or decision on this subject?
MR. BURNS: I spent a lot of time with Ambassador Holbrooke over the last couple of days. I haven't had a chance to talk to him about his meeting with Mr. Gonensay, but I can tell you that I am pretty sure given the fact there was an incursion yesterday, the issue must have come up. It certainly came up this morning when Ambassador Grossman met his counterparts in the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
On the second issue of pipelines, it's one of the most important issues facing the United States, Turkey, Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, and other countries -- Georgia -- for the future; that is, the huge deposit of oil in the Caspian Sea which represents, next to the Persian Gulf, perhaps the greatest area of oil resources in the world for the 21st Century.
The question is, how will the private international oil consortium, when they prospect for oil and mine for oil, get that oil out to ports. There are many, many routes available.
The President and Assistant Secretary Holbrooke have all discussed this with Turkish officials. We certainly would be interested in seeing that at least one of the pipelines -- and we think that the reserves are so great, there will be need multiple pipelines -- does go through Turkey, to Turkish ports. That is something that is under active discussion.
I would remind you, however, these are not decisions in this new, great game that governments will make. These are decisions that oil consortiums will make. They are listening to us; they're looking to us for guidance.
We will have some impact on these decisions, through the provision of commercial credits for these huge multi-billion dollar projects.
We have an exceedingly close relationship with Turkey. We understand this issue is important to Turkey; that's why we've made such a good start with the Turkish Government in saying that we think, at least, one of the pipelines should go through Turkey.
Q Back to Asia. There is legislation being introduced next week that would ban trade and investment from the United States and Burma as Aung San Suu Kyi prepares to begin her seventh year under house arrest. What is the Administration's position on this matter?
MR. BURNS: I will just have to look into that for you. I'm not aware of the position that we will be taking in that particular issue. I'll look into it for you. I'll be glad to.
Q Just a quick one on Bosnia. Sacirbey was here yesterday. As he left, he talked about a UNPROFOR II without making any sort of definitions. Do you know what he means by that? Is he just talking about UNPROFOR with the Rapid Reaction Force added to it or not? And, secondly, did he make a strong case to the Secretary for the withdrawal of UNPROFOR if the Rapid Reaction Force is not aggressive as at least initially intended in The Hague?
MR. BURNS: Steve, on your second question, he did not make that kind of a case to the Secretary. Foreign Minister Sacribey came in for a roughly 45-minute meeting -- 50-minute meeting perhaps -- with the Secretary late in the day.
They have mutual respect for each other. The Secretary has great admiration for him. They work well together. They had seen each other two weeks ago, so it was another opportunity to discuss Bosnia.
The conversation rested in two areas: (1) the Secretary asked for the Minister's characterization of the current situation in Sarajevo -- the humanitarian situation, the availability of humanitarian supplies to the enclaves as well as Sarajevo. That picture is quite grim. The statistics, in fact -- the latest U.N. statistics show that on a monthly basis these enclaves are receiving 1/10th-1/15th of the food supplies that they need. So there was a discussion of the situation within Sarajevo and the current thinking of the Bosnian Government about the situation.
There was then a second part of the discussion about Mr. Bildt's diplomatic foray in the Balkans, about his conversations with Mr. Milosevic, his conversations yesterday with the Bosnian Government leadership in Sarajevo with Mr. Izetbegovic and the Prime Minister, Mr. Silajdzic, and a discussion of how we would now proceed on a diplomatic tract.
There was a short discussion of the Rapid Reaction Force and how both the United States and Bosnia thought that would materialize. My only guess is in his comments to you, the Minister is referring to the fact that the Bosnian Government strongly hopes the addition of the Rapid Reaction Force to the U.N. force will be a qualitative difference so that is more effective, and so that the major missions -- humanitarian and protection of enclaves -- can be met in a much better way.
That's what he expressed to the Secretary. The Secretary expressed complete agreement with Minister Sacribey on that question.
Q Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:56 p.m.)
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