Return to: Index of 1994 Daily Briefings || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage

.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
95/07/10 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN



                         U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                           DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

                                 I N D E X

                         Monday, July 10, l995

                                       Briefer:  Nicholas Burns

ANNOUNCEMENT
Arrival of New Director of Press Office John Dinger ....1
David Johnson to Become New Deputy Spokesman ...........1

CHINA
Arrest of U.S. Citizen Harry Wu/Consular Officer Visit .1-15
--Chinese Conditions re: Consular Visit ................1,9-10-12
--Condition & Health of Wu/Access by Consular Officer ..1,5-6,7,12
--Chinese Government's Charges Against Harry Wu ........2-3,5-6,10-11,13
--U.S. Reaction to Arrest of Harry Wu ..................3,4-5
--Next Steps in Wu Case ................................14-15
--Secretary's Contacts with Congress re: Wu's Arrest ...15
Overall Status of U.S.-China Relations/US-China 
  Contacts .............................................3,7,14,17,19
--Assistant Secretary Lord's Call to Chinese Charge ....4
U.S. One-China Policy ..................................7-8,20
No Plans for Secretarial Travel to China ...............8-9
Prospects for Travel Advisory for China ................13
Possible Chinese Reaction to Possible US Announcement 
  re:  Diplomatic Relations with Vietnam ...............16-17
Former Secretary Kissinger's Visit to China/Mtgs with
  Secretary and Assistant Secretary Lord ...............17-19

TAIWAN
Speaker Gingrich's Comments re: Diplomatic Relations ...7-8
Reported Chinese Contact with US re: Future Visa Requests
  from Taiwan President Lee to Visit U.S. ..............15-16

FRANCE
French Seizure of Greenpeace Vessel ....................20-21

BURMA
Release of Aung San Suu Kyi ............................21-22

INDIA
Escape of American From Kidnappers in Kashmir ..........22
--Efforts of the Indian Government in Search ...........22
--Status of other Americans & British Held in Kashmir ..23-23

MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
Progress re Israel-Palestinian and Israel-Syrian 
  Tracks ...............................................23
Ambassador's Ross Plans/Itinerary ......................23

IRAQ
Reported Unrest in Iraq ................................23-24
Turkish Operation in Northern Iraq .....................23-24

FORMER YUGOSLAVIA
Status of the Enclave Srebrenica/Dutch Peacekeepers ....24
--Prospects for Airstrikes .............................24,25-26
EU Negotiator Bildt's Efforts/Mtg of Contact Group .....24,27
U.N. Efforts/Rapid Reaction Force Status/Mandate .......24-25-27,29

NARCOTICS
U.S. Efforts re: Fight Against Drugs ...................27-28

CUBA
Reported "Flotilla" from Miami to Cuba .................29

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #101

MONDAY, JULY 10, 1995, 1:04 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. BURNS: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I'd like to introduce to all of you today Mr. John Dinger. John, if you want to stand.

John is the new Director of the State Department Press Office, replacing David Johnson. David, if you'd like to stand. David is the new Deputy Spokesman of the State Department, and John has just begun work today. He is a very distinguished Foreign Service Officer who has served most recently until about a week ago as Deputy Director of the Japan Desk. He has also served in Johannesburg, Rio de Janeiro and has had assignments in Japan itself. We're very pleased he's here. I'm sure you all want to talk to him and get to know him very soon.

I think you all know Mr. Johnson. He needs no --

Q Is he very distinguished, too?

MR. BURNS: He's very distinguished, yes. (Laughter) He's exceedingly distinguished. (Laughter)

Q What have you done with the distinguished Christine Shelly?

MR. BURNS: The distinguished Christine Shelly is going to go on to an assignment with the Department, and I think you'll be seeing her shortly before she leaves. She's here for another two weeks, in the building.

Q Can you enlighten us on --

MR. BURNS: I don't want to do that. I think that's for Christine to say what she's going to be doing. I don't want to do that in her behalf.

I am prepared to go to whatever questions may be on your mind.

Q Would you bring us up to date on Harry Wu?

MR. BURNS: Yes, I can. As you know, Mr. Wu -- the Chinese Government informed our Embassy in Beijing on Saturday that Mr. Harry Wu had been arrested and was going to be charged with some very serious crimes. We sent our Consul General in Beijing, Mr. Arturo Macias, out to Wuhan in Hubei Province, and they had a meeting this morning.

The visit in a Wuhan jail lasted about 30 minutes. Mr. Wu stated that he was fine; that he was being fed, and that he had not been beaten or tortured. I understand that the conversation had to take place through a glass partition. The conversation was monitored by four or five Chinese officials. In fact, they had to speak through a phone line. There was a Chinese official on the phone line.

Our Consul was not permitted to discuss the details of the legal case being brought against Mr. Wu with Mr. Wu. We had been informed by the Chinese Government before the meeting that that would not be the case; that it was not going to be permissible for our Consul to discuss any aspect of the legal proceedings with Mr. Wu.

We believe that Mr. Wu should be given legal representation of his own choosing, and we want to make sure that Mr. Wu is fully apprised of the charges being brought against him and fully understands the charges being brought against him, and therefore we would like access to him to be able to discuss these charges.

Under the Consular Convention between the United States and China, under Article 35 of that Convention, visits may be made on a recurring basis -- our visits to see Mr. Wu -- and no longer than one month shall be allowed to pass in between visits. Mr. Macias, our Consul, was informed upon leaving the prison that we might not expect another visit for a month.

We are pressing to make sure that our Consul can see Mr. Wu on a more frequent basis. Mr. Macias is scheduled to return to Beijing on July 11. Just to review some of the information that came in over the weekend, it's our understanding that Mr. Wu has been accused of committing three crimes.

First, repeatedly sneaking into China under false names;

Second, stealing Chinese state secrets; and

Third, disseminating those secrets to institutions and organizations outside of China.

We are not aware if these are in fact the specific charges that will be brought against Mr. Wu if his case comes to trial, and we are currently researching Chinese law to discover any penalties -- or the penalties that would accompany a conviction under these charges.

We very much regret the action that the Chinese Government has taken in arresting Mr. Wu and in bringing these charges against him, and we're going to make sure that we do everything we can to protect Mr. Wu's rights under the U.S.-China Consular Convention. And I've gone just a couple of minutes ago into what we are doing in that regard.

We have repeatedly stated that we think he should be released expeditiously, immediately, and I'd like to restate that again for you today. We believe that Mr. Wu's expeditious release is in the best interests of the United States and China, as well, obviously, as in the best interests of Mr. Wu and his family.

Q The other day you said that the overall relationship cannot be improved as long as this Wu case remains a sore point. Such a trial proceeding could go on for months or even years, depending on how fast the Chinese want it to move. Are you still linking overall improvement in relations with China with a successful resolution of the Wu case?

MR. BURNS: I don't think we ever specifically linked the two, but what we have said quite clearly, Jim, is that we are obviously in a period of some difficulty in U.S.-China relations. We believe it's imperative that both the United States and China take steps to repair those difficulties.

The United States is trying to schedule meetings with the Chinese leadership to discuss these differences. We're not trying to cancel meetings, and we'd like to see some high-level discussions take place so that we can sort out our differences and talk through them.

Certainly, Mr. Wu's case is an important case because he's an American citizen traveling on a valid American passport. He had a valid Chinese visa. He was not aware upon entering China that any difficulties would ensue. It's a serious case, but there are a number of issues that remain on the agenda that are quite important that need to be resolved. There are a number of opportunities between the United States and China that speak to both of our national interests which speaks to the need for continued contact.

On Saturday, Assistant Secretary of State Win Lord telephoned the Chinese Charge here in Washington and made the basic point that it's time for both countries to understand that we need to make progress in this relationship and certainly action by the Chinese Government in the particular case of Mr. Wu would provide that kind of progress that might help us unlock some of the difficulties that are currently a big factor in our relationship with China.

Mark.

Q Are you asking other countries to raise the Wu case in their contacts with Chinese officials, in particular Germany where the President of China is now traveling?

MR. BURNS: Mark, we've taken the position that U.S.-China relations are dependent on the actions and the behavior of both countries, and we believe now that it's important that China demonstrate that it has an interest in good relations with us; and that's the major point that we've tried to make to the Chinese Government in all of our diplomatic contacts.

We would certainly be agreeable if other countries wanted to advise the Chinese Government that their reaction in the case of Mr. Wu has probably not led to an improvement of the relationship; in fact, has added to the difficulties. If other countries want to make that case, if they want to advise China of a certain course of action, that would be beneficial to Mr. Wu, we would have no objection to that.

But I think the main message we're giving is that the United States and China have to resolve these problems together and directly. We're not looking for outside mediation of this problem, and we're not searching desperately for other countries to step in and solve this problem.

It's really incumbent upon the United States and China to resolve this particular problem and all the problems on our agenda.

Q So no other country has been asked to raise the issue of Harry Wu with the Chinese?

MR. BURNS: No, I didn't say that. We would certainly welcome it, and I think we've probably had contact with other countries and said -- I'm not aware of it specifically, but I imagine we have had contact with other countries and asked for support. We normally would do that in a case like this which is so public and is posing such a problem in our relationship.

But the main point I want to stress is that we believe that we can resolve this problem and others on our own with the Chinese and that is the main focus of our efforts.

Q In asking for immediate release, are you saying these charges are trumped up and politically motivated with no legal basis at all?

MR. BURNS: We're not in a position to know, George. We're not in a position to substantiate these charges, because we have had very cursory access to Mr. Wu, and our Consul did not have an opportunity to discuss the specific charges with him. So in effect we have not heard Mr. Wu's side of the story, and that obviously would have to happen before we formed our own judgment.

We're not party to the legal proceedings. This is a matter now for the Chinese Government to decide how it will proceed under Chinese law and regulations. So it's really not possible for us to take any kind of position on the legal issues that have arisen here.

Q But (inaudible)

MR. BURNS: But it is certainly possible for us, George -- let me just finish a point -- to assert a compelling political and humanitarian point, and that is that Mr. Wu is a champion of human rights. He is acknowledged to be around the world and certainly in the United States, and we believe it's certainly in his best interests to have him released immediately. We believe it's in the best interests of both of our countries and of our relationship with China to see an expeditious release.

Sid.

Q It may be asking the obvious, but is China abusing the human rights of Harry Wu?

MR. BURNS: Sid, I think we know so little about the conditions of Mr. Wu's detention since June 19. There was a very short meeting today. I have just reported to you that Mr. Wu stated that he was fine; that he was being fed, and that he had not been beaten or tortured. That's what he stated to our Consul, and there were Chinese officials present at that encounter.

We do not have an independent way to assess the conditions of his detention or the specifics of what has happened to him since June 19. All I'm saying today is it's quite clear to us that it's in his best interests and the best interests of both countries that China take now very quick action to release him. That is clearly the outcome that is desired by the United States.

Q But the fact of his detention -- the circumstances of his arrest and detention, is that an abuse of his human rights, barring the conditions under which he's been held?

MR. BURNS: Again, I think we have to be very careful here to make judgments based upon what we know. We know very little about the charges that are being brought against him, about the ultimate specific charges on which he may or may not be tried, and we haven't had an opportunity to hear from Mr. Wu.

Because of all this, because we know so little about the legal aspects of this case, I think it's really wise for me to limit myself to what I've said.

Steve.

Q The way I hear you, you're leaving open the possibility that the charges are then valid charges, pending what you hear from him?

And the second question is, so far as you know, is he a spy for anybody?

MR. BURNS: I can tell you there is nothing that I know of that would indicate he's a spy for anyone; certainly not for the United States. Mr. Wu is respected citizen of the United States. He has contributed a lot to this country, and we, in the government, have great respect for him.

On your first question, Steve, the problem that we're dealing with -- again, I will be repetitive; I think it bears repetition. We have not been given the opportunity by the Chinese authorities to understand in a specific and detailed way what the charges are, what they mean, and what evidence has come forth to substantiate those charges.

So I am very clearly today not substantiating the charges. I'm not in a position to do so. But I'm really not in a position to go beyond saying that since we know so little.

The clear point that I would like to leave with you, from this particular briefing, is that we think he ought to be released, and that remains the goal of the United States.

Charlie.

Q Nick, to go back to what you told us about what the Chinese told Mr. Macias and the agreement -- I guess Article 35, if I heard you correctly, if there is not another meeting allowed with Mr. Wu for 30 days, the Chinese would be within the realm -- they would be complying with the agreement; is that correct?

MR. BURNS: My understanding of Article 35 of the U.S.-China Consular Convention is that no longer than one month shall be allowed to pass before there is a visit. So I guess a reading of that would indicate that they may be within their rights to permit only one visit during a 30-day period.

We believe, because of the absence of detailed information, because of our intense and serious interest in this case and in the welfare of Mr. Wu, we believe we ought to be given the right to see him on a more frequent basis. We are asserting that with the Chinese Government, and we'll continue to do that.

Q Nick, you are still not -- or the Administration is still not considering any kind of punitive measures in regards to China over this case?

MR. BURNS: We're taking development as they occur on a day-to-day basis. We've learned a little bit more over the weekend -- Saturday and today. Not nearly enough for us to be satisfied but a little bit more. We'll continue to take it on a day-to-day basis.

We're going to try to use our relationship with China, in our diplomatic contacts both here in Washington and in Beijing, to resolve this problem.

Q What do you think about Speaker Gingrich's suggestion that you recognize Taiwan?

MR. BURNS: The United States has a very clear policy towards China, and that is that the People's Republic of China is the sole, legal government of China. We certainly acknowledge the Chinese position that there is one China and Taiwan is part of China. We have a one-China policy.

It's been the policy of successive Democratic and Republican Administrations for well over 16 years. It has worked for the United States. It has had bipartisan support, and it continues to have -- in the large, in the main -- bipartisan support.

It speaks to our national interest to have a stable and constructive relationship with the Government in Beijing.

We maintain cultural, commercial, and other unofficial relations with the people on Taiwan. This approach -- unofficial relations with Taiwan; official relations with the People's Republic of China -- has been the foundation of an extremely successful policy that has lasted for going on five Administrations. We are not going to change that policy. We have no plans to change that policy, and we certainly stand behind the policy.

We have made clear to the Chinese Government, in the aftermath of their disagreement with us in issuing the visa to President Lee, that we have a one-China policy; that we are not changing that policy, and we're going to stick with that policy. We have been very clear about that. And very clear also to assure the Chinese Government in Beijing that we have a policy of engagement with them -- engagement across the board -- and we're going to remain dedicated to that.

Q What do you think the impact is of someone of Gingrich's stature introducing this suggestion into the public debate?

MR. BURNS: I think that we're going to retain bipartisan support for the Administration's policy which has received the support of both Republican Presidents in office and also Republican legislators.

I think upon a close examination of this issue and all of the ramifications that this type of proposal would bring to our relations with China, it will be clearer to politicians in this country -- both Republican and Democratic and to others in this country, the American people -- that it's in our best interest to stick with a policy that has worked, and that's what we intend to do.

The President sets American foreign policy towards China, and the President is not going to change that policy.

Steve.

Q Since the Secretary is going to be out that way shortly, is there any thought being given to him stopping by Beijing and trying to patch things up?

MR. BURNS: No, not that I'm aware of. There's no thought whatsoever. The Secretary does plan to travel to Brunei for the ASEAN meetings at the beginning of August.

We are seeking diplomatic contacts -- high-level diplomatic contacts -- with Chinese officials. We'd very much like to have those discussions so that we can work through the problem of Mr. Wu and the other problems on the U.S.-China agenda, but there are no plans for the Secretary to visit China.

Q Nick, just to go back to the interview with Mr. Wu. You say that Mr. Macias was not allowed to discuss the details of his arrest; is that correct?

MR. BURNS: That's correct. We had been informed on Saturday, when Mr. Macias was called in to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, that when we had our consular visit with Mr. Wu, it would not be permitted or possible for the American consular official to discuss the case -- the legal charges being brought against Mr. Wu or his case or impending trial -- with Mr. Wu.

I understand that when the conversation veered towards that at several points, the Chinese officials made it known that the conversation would completely end if the discussion continued of the case.

As I said before -- and I want to emphasize this -- we believe it's very important that he be given legal representation of his own choosing. We also think it's important that Mr. Wu adequately be in a position to understand what is happening to him in the Chinese judicial process, what the nature of the charges is, what the ultimate penalty is, and we will seek to have future conversations with Mr. Wu on these issues.

We have a fundamental obligation here -- our government -- to an American citizen to help protect both his rights in the Chinese system, in which he finds himself, but also to do what we think is reasonable to help him understand what the ramifications of these proceedings are, and we'll continue to assert that right.

Q You went along with those guidelines? Mr. Macias did not protest those restrictions at the Foreign Ministry when they were laid out to him?

MR. BURNS: I understand, Sid, that these are not restrictions that are unique to the case of Mr. Wu; that these are the normal restrictions that apply to any foreigner who is subject to arrest, detention, and charges within China. It's not unusual.

In fact, the Chinese told us on Saturday that this was not unusual; this was a normal procedure. I am just asserting today that we would like the rule of reason to prevail here. This is now a very high profile case. An American citizen has been charged with very serious crimes, and we believe that he has the right to know, without a doubt, in his own mind, what the nature of those charges is.

Q Once he got done saying he was okay and not being beaten and eating alright, what was the rest of the half hour on?

MR. BURNS: Mr. Macias, our consul, I believe, phoned in a report to the Embassy in Beijing, and on that basis we have a very short cable from Beijing. We do not have a lengthier cable, which we are expecting to receive which could provide further information. But our first objective in seeking access to Mr. Wu was to assure ourselves that he was okay, that his physical and emotional state was as good as could be expected under the circumstances.

We certainly want to assure ourselves that he is being well treated. He stated to us, with Chinese officials present, that he is, in effect, receiving fair treatment. We will seek other visits to him because we will continuously want to monitor his condition. He is 58 years old. He has spent 19 years of his life in Chinese detention -- in prisons. He's had a hard life, and he's certainly going through enormous emotional strain now. He's under arrest. He's being charged with serious crimes. We want to make sure that he's okay, and that is the first objective.

When the conversation did veer secondarily to the case itself, as I said, the Chinese officials threatened to end the conversation. So Mr. Macias was not in a position to get any kind of detail from Mr. Wu on his own appreciation of his legal position.

Q You mentioned the three charges, and one of them is that he entered China repeatedly under false names. Is Peter Hongda Wu a false name? You can at least comment on that, can you not?

MR. BURNS: I certainly can, yes. Peter Hongda Wu is an American citizen, naturalized in the United States.

The name that he took as a nationalized American citizen was Peter Hongda Wu. The passport that he was given was in that name. He has a valid American passport. He has been issued only one passport. He has a valid Chinese visa in his passport.

He has traveled to China on several occasions during the last couple of years with this particular passport. If the Chinese Government had a reason to suspect that he was guilty of these crimes, then they should have, of course, alerted him during the visa process. That's normally what we would do in this process.

We often keep people out of our country who we believe have either violated our laws or have acted in such a way that they are undesirable in our own country.

So it's a little bit unusual for an American citizen to be issued a valid visa only to find that when he enters the particular country he's arrested on very serious charges.

Q Do you think the Chinese set Mr. Wu up?

MR. BURNS: I have no way of knowing that. We know very little about his actual detention and arrest on the Chinese-Kazak border on June 19. As I said, we have very little information on the charges that have been brought against him, and we've not had a full discussion with the Chinese authorities on how they intend to proceed on a judicial basis.

So we're really operating here with scant information, and we're doing the best we can to, kind of surmise what the facts are.

Betsy.

Q If we were told that an area of discussion could not be the charges against him, were there any other areas of discussion that we were told that there were restrictions on?

MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that we were advised beforehand there were additional areas of discussion that were off limits, no. I know that we were specifically advised -- and, again, the Chinese said this is normal, this is how we treat -- this is how all foreigners in this case are treated, as are foreign governments, when they seek consular access.

Q Did they say when you would normally -- under their normal process -- be able to discuss the case with him?

MR. BURNS: No. No, they did not.

Q Did the consul actually see him, or was it through a partition?

MR. BURNS: He actually saw him. It was a glass partition. Again, this is not unusual in jails and prisons around the world, that your access is not, in this case, physically direct, that you have to meet through a partition. There was a glass partition. As I understand it, both Mr. Wu and Mr. Macias had phones and were speaking to each other through a phone. There was a Chinese official on the line who may have been interpreting; we're not clear about this point, but certainly was listening in on the conversation.

There was an official with Mr. Wu on his side of the partition, and there were several officials with Mr. Macias on his side of the partition. So this was a group discussion. This was not an opportunity for Mr. Macias to have direct access to Mr. Wu.

What we would like now to happen is, we would like to see more frequent, certainly, access to him by our consular officials. We want to assure ourselves that Mr. Wu does understand what is happening to him and that he believes he's got adequate representation.

This is, in effect, the detail of what happened today. But the largest point that's of importance to the United States is that he be released, and that he be released expeditiously. We prefer it to be immediately, because we think that's in his best interest. We think that's the most logical and successful outcome of this case.

Q In what kind of facility is Mr. Wu kept in right now? Was there any indication that he was going to be moved anytime soon? And did you get any guarantees that if he was moved that Consulate officials were going to be informed of that?

MR. BURNS: I know that Mr. Macias met with him in a jail. Wuhan is a fairly big town. There may be several jails there. I can't tell you the specific name of this jail. It's that type of information that I believe will be forthcoming, when we receive the detailed report of Mr. Macias once he gets back to Beijing. You see, he can't file a cable to us from Wuhan. He's got to file it from Beijing, and I think he'll be back in Beijing tomorrow. So we may have more information tomorrow.

I would imagine that if anything fundamental changes in the terms of Mr. Wu's incarceration, it would be normal, it would be reasonable and expected, that the United States Government would be informed -- namely, if he is moved to another town, we would be informed of that.

As you know, since June 19, we've had a problem of pinpointing where Mr. Wu has been held. It wasn't until this weekend, on Saturday, that we knew exactly where he was being held.

Q Nick, you can't go very far back in history to find precedent for dealing with another totalitarian state in situations like this. Is there any thought being given, or is there a point at which the United States might find a Chinese spy in this country and arrest him?

MR. BURNS: In the interest of fairness in answering your question, let me just assert that Mr. Wu is an American citizen. He's a private American citizen. There is absolutely no evidence of which I'm aware that would led anybody to conclude that he is a spy.

I don't know, Steve, what I can say in answer to your question. We're going to proceed on the most rational, reasonable level that we can. We're going to try to convince the Chinese Government that it's in their interest to resolve this case soon and to free Mr. Wu.

Q Nick, is there anything in how the Chinese Government conducted this interview that violates the Consular Agreement that you're aware of?

MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that the Chinese did anything that would violate the Consular Agreement.

Q We're now within the letter of the Consular Agreement --

MR. BURNS: They had not been within the letter of the Consular Agreement for nearly two weeks in denying us access to Mr. Wu. But since we now have access, I'm not aware that any of the procedures that were followed today in Wuhan in the jail interview were inconsistent with the Consular Convention. I'm not aware of anything that would lead me to that conclusion.

However, we are also following a course of reason here. We'd like to see some flexibility and we would like to see reason prevail in our access to Mr. Wu.

Q One other question. Is there any consideration being given in this building to a travel advisory?

MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any consideration to that effect.

Q The other day you made the point that diplomats deal with China through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Some people are taking the view that Harry Wu may be a victim of a power struggle within China between the various forces -- hardline and softline -- and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has lost its influence while the security forces and the military have gained influence and are using him as a pawn. Do you subscribe at all to such a theory?

MR. BURNS: It's hard to know what is motivating the Chinese Government in taking such a hard line against Mr. Wu. There are a number of reasons that can be cited. You've cited one. People often cite that particular reason.

We are going to confine ourselves, I think at this point, in the case of Mr. Wu, to our effort to have him released.

You've asked a broader question here, that concerns U.S.-China relations in general, and what the factors may be at work that affect that relationship. We are not in a position to control most of those factors. As to the future of politics and the future of the leadership in China, we have no control over that.

But we do have control over our agenda with China, and we have a mutual responsibility with the Chinese Government to do everything we can to keep this relationship stable.

This relationship is enormously important for both countries. We recognize that. Since the beginning of the troubles with China over the last couple of months, I would just note that the United States has not taken actions like cancelling meetings. We have always sought to engage, and we're going to continue that.

Q Nick, the question is regarding the expeditious release of Harry Wu. My question is, is this being taken as a normal diplomatic process? At any point, have you thought of taking any alternative course if this fails, if this normal diplomatic process fails?

MR. BURNS: We're taking it one day at a time. We are going through diplomatic channels to try to resolve this case. We retain a number of options, and we'll continue to retain those options. But for now, we're taking it one day at a time. We're seeking more information. We're seeking Mr. Wu's release.

Q What kind of options are you talking about?

MR. BURNS: I don't care to go into them. Some of them may be obvious to you; some maybe not. But the United States has an obligation to defend its own national interests.

We have a variety of interests at stake in our relations with China -- not just the Harry Wu case, but others. The Harry Wu case is quite important to us, and we're signaling that to the Chinese Government. We're signaling it by indicating the very high level of interest by our leadership in this particular case; by the fact that Assistant Secretary Lord was in contact again with the Chinese Charge; and by our continuing attempt to seek high level meetings on this and other issues.

Q It's alright if you refrain from telling me what the options are, but in your exchange with the Chinese, did you indicate what options you might take in case you fail to get what you get?

MR. BURNS: I just don't want to be in a position of telling you and others the details of our diplomatic conversations with the Chinese. We don't normally do that. That's not normal diplomatic practice, so I think I'll adhere to normal diplomatic process and be silent on that issue.

Q Is the United States determined to Harry Wu's release?

MR. BURNS: Of course, we're determined to obtain the release of an American citizen who we respect. We're calling for his immediate release.

Q Has the Secretary been in touch with any members of Congress -- Senator Helms or others -- who know Mr. Wu, to specifically inform him of what Mr. Macias told him?

MR. BURNS: I can check into that. I don't know if the Secretary has done that this morning. This information just reached us a couple of hours ago. We have been trying to keep the interested members of Congress apprised of whatever we know all along the line. The Secretary had lunch with Senator Helms and Senator Pell a week back, and had a long discussion of Mr. Wu's case.

It wouldn't surprise me if it comes up tonight in contacts that we'll be having with members of Congress, and it wouldn't surprise me if it came up in any telephone call or meeting at any level between Congress and the Administration.

It's a very important case. Mr. Wu has a great deal of support in the U.S. Congress. He's got a great deal of support in the Administration for his release as well.

Q There's a story in U.S. News & World Report regarding the Chinese Premier, Li Peng, and Foreign Minister, Qian Qichen have requested President Clinton to promise not to receive President Lee Teng-hui to visit the United States. Apparently, the State Department said no to this request. Can you confirm that?

MR. BURNS: I have no information on that particular story.

Q Are you aware of any communique or any further formal things being discussed between the two governments right now?

MR. BURNS: This issue is probably discussed on a daily basis between the United States and China. I'm simply not aware of all the conversations that take place at a variety of levels. I'm aware of some of the conversations that take place. I'm aware of some of the conversations that take place.

We issued a visa to President Lee Teng-hui for an unofficial visit to the United States. We said after issuing the visa that any subsequent requests for a visa would be considered on a case-by-case basis. We have not made any commitments to issue visas in the future.

Q Some of the problems between China and the United States are perhaps unfortunate coincidences of timing. You now have a pretty delicate situation with the Chinese and there's going to be an announcement tomorrow that I wonder whether you think will have an impact on that also. What do you expect the Chinese to say in reaction to tomorrow's expected announcement on Vietnam?

MR. BURNS: I was going to ask for enlightenment on tomorrow -- on Vietnam, okay. Thank you.

Q My pleasure.

MR. BURNS: Thanks, David. The United States is considering -- and, of course, the President is considering -- next steps in our relationship with Vietnam.

This decision that is going to be based on the issue of POW/MIAs and the efforts that we believe the Vietnamese may or may not have made on that decision, should not be seen as anyway linked to United States relations with China. The fact is, the United States and Vietnam have an enormously complex past. They fought a war. It is now 20 years since the end of that war. The President must determine whether or not it's now appropriate to normalize diplomatic relations.

If that happens -- if it happens -- and if that decision is made, then that will speak to U.S.-Vietnamese relations. It should not be seen by anyone else in Asia as some kind of threat. It's not meant to be. It's not designed to be.

Vietnam is a country of growing importance to the United States and to other countries that have interests in the Pacific -- because of its economic importance, its growing economy, because of its political relations with a number of the other countries in the region. So I think you have to see this question of U.S.-Vietnamese relations in its own framework.

Q Can't count on the Chinese to do that, though, can we?

MR. BURNS: The Chinese have to make their own decisions. But the Chinese should not see any possible improvement in U.S.-Vietnamese relations as somehow to their detriment. This is not a zero-sum game.

The United States is a Pacific power. We are one of the great powers of the Pacific. We have vital national interests at stake in the Pacific, and we will meet those interests based on our own perception of our interests. Other countries would have to expect that we would follow that course.

Q Nick, do you have any comment on the fact that a number of U.S. companies have lost major contracts in the context of the difficult relations between the two countries?

MR. BURNS: We would hope that U.S.-Chinese economic relations would continue to be good. We certainly think that the United States has a lot to offer. Our companies have a lot to offer. China has been a major market for the United States. The United States is a major market for China. We have a mutual interest in ensuring the continuation of good economic relations. We would expect that that will continue.

Q Another topic?

MR. BURNS: Can we just exhaust China before we go to another.

Q I'd like to take you back to that U.S. News & World Report story for a moment. The story says that before former Secretary of State Kissinger went out to Beijing he met with Assistant Secretary Lord in the building.

While Secretary Kissinger was in Beijing, he made three proposals to the Chinese leadership. Among them, one was a meeting between the Secretary and Foreign Minister Qian when they meet in Brunei in August. Do you have any comment on this particular aspect of the story?

Number one: Can you confirm whether Secretary Kissinger did meet with Lord before he went out?

MR. BURNS: I can certainly confirm it. I said last week that Secretary Christopher met with former Secretary Kissinger a couple of weeks back, in advance of Secretary Kissinger's trip to China.

In addition to that, just before former Secretary Kissinger left, he did meet with Win Lord. You would expect that -- Win Lord is our top regional specialist on Asia. He also used to work with former Secretary Kissinger. They had a good discussion about the state of U.S.-China relations.

I'm not aware that former Secretary Kissinger was carrying any messages from the United States Government. He may have raised -- and I'm sure he did raise -- a number of issues pertaining to the relationship, and that would be quite natural.

I'm sure that when former Secretary Kissinger returns, we will be interested in meeting him to get a brief on what he thinks of the situation in China, how he appraises U.S.-China relations and what he heard from specific Chinese officials in the meeting. This is normal practice in the United States, and I'm sure we will not deviate from it in this case.

Q While he's in the field, he's not sending any reports or messages to the State Department?

MR. BURNS: I'm not aware of any reports that he sent to the State Department during his trip. I can't exclude that possibility. Because, as you know, our Embassy has been facilitating his visit, and I believe some of our Embassy officers have sat in on some of his meetings. It could be the case that he sent in reports but I'm not aware of any.

Concerning --

Q You're not aware of any messages that Dr. Kissinger was carrying for the Administration? Does that mean those three proposals which the U.S. News & World Report mentioned were his own?

MR. BURNS: I have no idea whether or not the U.S. News report is accurate. I haven't seen the report. I don't know the specifics of what Dr. Kissinger discussed in his meetings. I don't even know in generality what he discussed. I do know that we had a couple of meetings with him -- Secretary Christopher and Win Lord -- before he left and that we'll be seeing him when he comes back.

Q Has China demanded an apology from the U.S. for issuing the visa to President Lee Teng-hui?

MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that it has demanded an apology. I think it's fair to say that China believes the United States should take some steps to correct what it perceives to be a relationship that has some difficulties.

We would say, in reply, that it takes two countries to make a successful relationship. Given the pattern of the last couple of weeks -- and specifically the case of Mr. Wu -- it is certainly incumbent upon the Chinese leadership to take some steps to show it has an interest in good U.S.-Chinese relations.

Q Are you prepared to talk to the Chinese as to what to do to correct what the Chinese call mistakes?

MR. BURNS: We are interested in all conversations possible with the Chinese at all levels. We have made our views clearly known to the Chinese Government.

Q What, specifically, have the Chinese asked that the United States do to mend fences?

MR. BURNS: Again, I'm not a party to the daily diplomatic discussions that go on, so I can't speak specifically, Steve. But it's my own view -- it's my own understanding -- that they have not been exceedingly specific to us.

Therefore, we believe that the way to go forward now in U.S.- Chinese relations is to have contact, is to have discussions, is to discuss specific problems, and for both sides to demonstrate that we both have an interest and a commitment to the relationship.

We've demonstrated that by asserting time and again, including today, that we have a one-China policy, and that policy will not change and has not changed. We have also asserted publicly that despite the fears of some in China, we are not engaged in a policy of containment of China. We're engaged in a policy of engagement with China, and that's going to remain the fundamental bedrock of our policy.

So we have made a number of public overtures to the Chinese Government, and we would now expect that China would take some steps to assure us that it is also committed to this type of relationship.

Q Have the Chinese side mentioned that they need a fourth communique between two countries to boost the so-called one-China policy, to guarantee that the U.S. would not do anything beyond the one- China policy? Have the Chinese side mentioned that?

MR. BURNS: Our relationship with China is based on the Three Communiques. I'm not aware that there's a proposal for a fourth.

Q Were you asked about the Rainbow Warrior situation? Do you have any reaction to the French, and do you think they overreacted in their actions?

MR. BURNS: I think we've exhausted China, so we can go on to the Rainbow Warrior, if possible. I believe we have.

Q (Inaudible)

MR. BURNS: I fully expect that. (Laughter) Let's talk about the Rainbow Warrior first. We view today's incident as unfortunate. According to press reports, the Green Peace vessel violated French territorial waters, precipitating the seizure. We believe it would have been preferable to resolve disputes through peaceful, legal means.

As we stated previously, we regret very much the French decision to resume nuclear testing, and we continue to urge all nuclear powers, including France, to join in a global moratorium as we work to complete the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty at the earliest possible time.

We will continue to work with France and the other nuclear powers towards that treaty.

Q Will the U.S. have any direct contact with the French or the Governments of New Zealand and Australia on this?

MR. BURNS: I'm sure we'll have direct contact with the French Government on this particular incident.

Q Are you going to try to --

MR. BURNS: I don't know if we'll have contact with other governments, but I'm sure we will with the French Government.

Q Will you try to convince them to let these people go or to change the situation or back down on their policy?

MR. BURNS: I believe the Rainbow Warrior has left the area. That's what I've seen on television just recently. I don't believe it's a case of having let people go. We just think this was an unfortunate incident this morning.

Q What's unfortunate about it? Is it unfortunate that the French stormed the vessel, or is it unfortunate that Green Peace wanted to protest the French decision?

MR. BURNS: I think the former, not the latter.

Q That the French stormed the vessel.

MR. BURNS: The incident was unfortunate in the way that it was resolved, certainly. We would have preferred peaceful, legal means. I would note that according to press reports, the Green Peace vessel did violate French territorial waters which precipitated the seizure. So just to be fair in assessing the situation, I wanted to note both factors.

Q Could we do Burma? Do you have any reaction to the release of Aung San Suu Kyi?

MR. BURNS: Yes, we do. We welcome very, very much the announcement by the Burmese authorities that Aung San Suu Kyi has been released, after her nearly six years of house arrest. If her release enables her to participate freely in a genuine process of reconciliation that leads to a democratically elected government, this would also mark a milestone toward the restoration of peace and stability in Burma.

While we welcome this step, we remain concerned about the general human rights situation in Burma, as reflected in our annual human rights reports. We hope very much that the release this morning of Aung San Suu Kyi signals the Burmese Government's commitment to free all political prisoners and engage in a genuine political dialogue with all forces -- political forces -- in Burma.

Q Nick, this is something that the Secretary and Winston Lord said would be a very important step in improving relations between the United States and Burma when they were in the region last time. Is the United States going to reciprocate in any fashion?

MR. BURNS: I believe before we do that, Sid, we're going to have to ascertain to our satisfaction that the conditions of her release this morning are consistent with what we think has happened. That they're consistent with a genuine effort to try to improve the political situation in Burma and to permit a much greater measure of political expression within Burma. She's a very courageous person. She's been under house arrest for nearly six years.

We're just not quite sure of any strings that might be attached to this particular release or if in fact there are some conditions that may have been applied to her actions after having been released. I don't believe we've heard from her yet. I think it's important we hear from her and we satisfy ourselves through our Embassy in Rangoon to the specifics of this particular case, but we certainly welcome the fact that she apparently has been released from house arrest. We have a great deal of respect and admiration for her.

Q Different subject?

MR. BURNS: Different subject.

Q Do you have anything else about the now one American being held by rebels in India?

MR. BURNS: We have a little bit of information on the situation in Kashmir. As you all know, John Childs, an American citizen, who is from Connecticut, made a very courageous and dramatic escape from the terrorists, who have kidnapped him over the weekend. We understand that Mr. Childs is in good health.

He is now being assisted by a Foreign Service Officer from our Embassy in New Delhi, who was dispatched to Kashmir last week. The other U.S. citizen, Donald Fred Hutchings, and two citizens of the United Kingdom are still being held by the Al-Faran group.

Their abduction remains a matter of deep concern to us. We are obviously hopeful for a peaceful outcome. We appreciate very much the cooperation we're receiving from the Indian Government in this matter. At this time out of concern for the safety of the American and the two Brits, we cannot provide any further information concerning efforts to secure their release.

Q Can you tell us if they are okay? If the gentleman who came out can verify that these people are in good health, who are still being held?

MR. BURNS: Unfortunately, I don't have any information on that. I assume that Mr. Childs has done his best to brief our authorities and Indian authorities on the conditions of the others. He escaped some time ago. It's now been -- what -- almost three days since his escape, I believe, and so I don't believe we're in a position to satisfy ourselves that the American citizens or the two British citizens are in good shape. We just don't know.

Q Nick, could we go to the Middle East?

MR. BURNS: Yes.

Q Filing break?

MR. BURNS: You've asked for a filing break. Okay. I believe George is the senior correspondent in the room, so we'll have to go by George's guidance.

Q There are reports that the Israelis and the Palestinians are going to resume their talks in Italy. Would you expect Ambassador Ross to be going to Italy in the next few days, next week?

MR. BURNS: I'm not aware that Ambassador Ross has any plans to do that. As you know, he's in the region, he left yesterday. He will be meeting with Israeli, Syrian, Palestinian, Jordanian and Egyptian authorities over the next couple of days. He is pursuing two very important issues.

One is the progress of the Israel-Palestinian talks -- that track - - which, as you know, we are very much engaged in. The second is progress in the Israel-Syrian talks in which we take a direct role in the talks itself.

We have not had American officials present in the Israel- Palestinian talks in Cairo or in talks that have gone on in Israel itself. So I wouldn't expect that would be the case. I would expect that he continue with his itinerary as he had planned it.

Q It is your understanding that they are going to convene the talks in Italy, though?

MR. BURNS: I've just seen the press reports, Sid. I'm not in a position to verify that.

Q Things seem to be warming up again in northern Iraq between KDP and PUK. Talibani and Barzani forces are at it again. They're fighting each other, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, I understand, have attacked People Mojahedin camps near Baghdad. Is that turbulence as usual or something else? What's your reading on what's going in Iraq?

MR. BURNS: I can't independently confirm the events that you're referring to. I have seen some press reports about turbulent events, but I haven't seen specific ones. I do know that the Turkish military is wrapping up its operation in northern Iraq. We've been assured that the withdrawal will be in a matter of several days.

We, of course, continue to urge the Turkish Government to keep this a limited engagement, to recognize standards of human rights. We very much understand the reason for this incursion and very much understand and defend Turkish right to defend itself.

Q Iranian operation was on Agence France Press.

MR. BURNS: Is that right?

Q Yes.

MR. BURNS: I'm not in a position to confirm that.

Laura.

Q On Bosnia. Over the weekend and part of today, the safe zones of Srebrenica and Zepa were shelled continuously, which provoked calls or threats by the United Nations for airstrikes. Can you give us the Department's assessment of what is happening right now on the ground?

MR. BURNS: I think that the assessment of the events as reported in the major newspapers are essentially our assessment that there's been a very serious incident that's occurred over the weekend where Bosnian Serb forces have gone within the 12.5 mile zone. They forced, from their positions, a small number of Dutch peacekeepers, and up to 30 of them, unfortunately, have been taken prisoner by the Bosnian Serbs.

We do understand that the Dutch have formed a defensive line just outside the city; that the United Nations has threatened NATO air strikes if the Bosnian Serbs attempt to pierce that line. NATO, of course, could launch air strikes or provide close air support to U.N. forces if requested to do so by the U.N., but NATO has not yet received any such request by the United Nations.

On the diplomatic side, the EU negotiator, Carl Bildt, has finished a tour of the region. There will be a contact group meeting on Wednesday night in Paris; where Mr. Bildt will report on his conversations with the Bosnian Government, with the Serbian Government in Belgrade and with a number of others in the region. Assistant Secretary Dick Holbrooke will represent the United States at that meeting.

Q These most recent incidents and the taking of hostages again and the threat of air strikes -- how successful do you think the U.N.'s mission has been on the ground in terms of delivering humanitarian aid or carrying out its mandate?

MR. BURNS: The United Nations, especially in recent months, has not been able to meet the mandate that it must carry out. It has not been able to deliver nearly enough of the humanitarian supplies to the enclaves and to Sarajevo. I believe that in most cases about ten percent of the monthly allocation of humanitarian food and medical supplies to most of the affected area.

It has also not been able to protect these areas from bombardment and from shelling by the Bosnian Serb forces. I think this is well known. It's apparent for everyone to see. That is why we have believed over the last month that the Rapid Reaction Force, if constructed properly and if it is served with the appropriate mandate, could, we hope, make a positive difference in strengthening the ability of the United Nations to meet its obligations, whether they're humanitarian or security. We very much hope that will be the case, although that remains an open question.

Q On the Rapid Reaction Force, there's a report on the wires that France has offered to use attack helicopters to assist the beleaguered Dutch that you referred to. Is this a proper example of what you intend -- this government intended the Rapid Reaction Force to be?

MR. BURNS: First, Judd, I'm not aware that the Rapid Reaction Force has been deployed to be utilized in this particular incident in Srebrenica. If the French have in fact offered that, we think it would be fully consistent with the mandate of the United Nations to protect the enclaves and also to protect its own peacekeepers. I can't speak to that request specifically.

Q But you've once again got hostages, U.N. peacekeepers being held hostage in Bosnia, doesn't that foreclose air strikes?

MR. BURNS: The U.N. spokesman this morning, Colonel Coward, was very careful to say that he did not think that these were hostages, in the sense that the Bosnian Serbs had not made demands for their release, as they have done in the previous cases where there were clearly hostage-takings of the several hundred U.N. peacekeepers. So I think we'll have to stand by what Mr. Coward has said and see what develops.

All I can say, David, is that the United Nations has threatened the Bosnian Serbs with NATO air strikes should this defensive perimeter, set-up just outside Srebrenica, be pierced. Also NATO, of course, under the dual-key arrangement is available to consider requests that are made to it by the United Nations, and we're not in a position to foreclose the possibility of air strikes.

Q On the wider point, there was a piece over the weekend that suggested -- and I wonder whether you agree with it -- that the reaction force and in fact the U.N. peacekeeping force in Bosnia really only has a few weeks to turn the situation around in some way before there are going to have to be plans made to withdraw the entire U.N. peacekeeping force in Bosnia. Do you agree or disagree with that thesis?

MR. BURNS: I think we'll have to wait and see when the Rapid Reaction Force is fully deployed. It's clearly not yet fully deployed from Croatia into Bosnia. We'll have to wait and see how that force equips itself and what kind of mandate it and others in the U.N. command want to give to it. If it is a mandate to protect the major responsibilities and advance the major responsibilities that the U.N. has, then we think it has a chance of being successful.

If it is more of the same, if it is unduly passive in the face of obvious provocations by the Bosnian Serbs, then we would think that this Rapid Reaction Force probably wouldn't be of much help, but based on our conversations, we believe that there is a good chance that it will be in effect a force that strengthens the United Nations. It was on that basis that the Clinton Administration -- President Clinton, Secretary Christopher and others -- decided that we ought to support the Rapid Reaction Force through the provision of American financial assistance, of military lift, of military equipment, of logistics help and intelligence support.

We also made the decision based on a very important point pertaining to U.S. relations with Western Europe. These are our NATO allies. They're in a very tight position, and the Dutch, a NATO ally of the United States, are certainly in a tight position today. It would be foolish of the United States to forsake our allies and to leave them in the lurch and to forsake the fundamental commitment we have to help them when they are threatened and in a tight position.

It was also on that basis that the President made the decision to back the Rapid Reaction Force, and we still think that's a very important point that everybody in our country has to consider. There are some people in our political system and people around the country who believe the United Nations has failed, and therefore we should simply wash our hands of the whole affair and walk out. That would not be an honorable thing for the United States to do when we have NATO allies who are currently threatened by military force.

We have 30 NATO allies -- peacekeepers -- who are detained today by the Bosnian Serbs. You don't leave your allies in a situation like that, and the President is determined not to leave them.

Tom.

Q The time pictures comes in the fact that winter is approaching and, if there is to be a U.N. withdrawal, completed before winter, that it would have to begin in a matter of weeks. I think that's where the idea of a deadline comes. Do you share that scenario, that sense of a deadline?

MR. BURNS: I think it's commonly agreed that winter conditions in the Balkans would preclude a major military operation along the lines of, say, the contingency plan that NATO has drawn up -- Plan 4104. Yes, it's commonly agreed to be the case, although in extremis all sorts of things have been done in difficult circumstances, but that is an assumption I think most people bring to this question.

Q The Defense Minister said today that the current diplomatic initiative by Bildt is the last one before these big decisions have to be made.

MR. BURNS: We certainly think there's enough hope for the particular negotiations, in which he has been involved, to give him more than one chance. These are very complex diplomatic, political problems, and Mr. Bildt has just had one foray into the region. He certainly deserves an adequate amount of time to see if he is able to bring the parties together.

We have been in close touch with him. Secretary Christopher has, as has Dick Holbrooke, and we're going to continue to support him in this.

Q Nick, I would like to refer to your story in The Washington Post today about the drug menace threatening the Southeast Asian countries. What is the Administration now thinking? Will it gear up any efforts -- specific efforts, as they're being reported that Khun Sa has been obtaining about 40,000 full-fledged army in the other parts of that region now.

MR. BURNS: We're not going to give up on the fight against narcotics. The President has made this one of the cornerstones of his foreign policy. We have put an enormous effort into this. We have some very talented people, including one of our finest Foreign Service Officers, Bob Gelbard, who are in charge of this effort.

I would just note that the Administration's Fiscal Year '95 request for narcotics -- the fight against narcotics was cut by over $75 million. In considering the Fiscal '96 request, our request has been cut so far by $100 million.

We need an adequate level of funding to engage in the fight against drugs worldwide. It's a global fight. It's in Southeast Asia. It's in South Asia. It's in South America. It's here in the United States. For the Congress to cut those funds we think is against our own national interest.

It gets to a larger question, and that's the battle over resources. To be a global power, as we are, and to be effective overseas, you've got to have the equipment to do it and the financial resources. Right now the Administration is making a big effort to convince the Congress that to be a global power, you've got to have the tools.

You can't talk a good game against narcotics and not give people the tools to fight that effort; that's what Ambassador Gelbard and others need, and that's what we hope the Congress will conclude as they head into the conference this September.

Q Nick, would you say that the Republicans are being soft on drug -- the international narcotics problem? Is that your message?

MR. BURNS: I would never say that, Sid. I would say that Secretary Christopher, Ambassador Gelbard and others have made it very clear that we have a direct national interest in the welfare of all the people in this country who are afflicted personally by drug abuse to see that the sources of those drugs are dried up; to see that the fight against the Cali cartel continues, the fight in Southeast Asia continues, but to be effective in that fight, we're going to have to have a bipartisan effort, and we're going to have to have money.

Right now the Congress is engaged in cutting it, so, I mean, you can draw your own conclusions, but I would never state it in the way that you have.

Laura.

Q Back to Bosnia for a second. The conversations and discussions about the mandate for the Rapid Reaction Force have been going on for some time now. Is there a deadline by which this mandate is expected to be defined or agreed upon?

MR. BURNS: We believe that this discussion, which is a very important discussion, is probably going to be answered on the ground when the Rapid Reaction Force is fully deployed -- it's not yet fully deployed -- and when it faces a situation analogous probably to this morning's situation -- a situation like that. How will the U.N. react, how will it use the force, how will it use it to protect and advance the mandate of the U.N. That's the key question.

Since we've heard so many different sides of this issue being expressed -- so many different views being expressed -- I think we'll have to wait until the Rapid Reaction Force gets on the ground.

Q Different topic. Is the State Department aware of a group of Cuban exiles, many who were American citizens, who on Thursday say they're going to leave on a flotilla from Miami, and they say their plans are to penetrate Cuban waters in memory of a group of Cubans who were killed in that tugboat incident last July 13, and Cuba has responded via Rafael Dausa said they will take any measures necessary to defend their sovereignty if somebody enters their waters?

MR. BURNS: I am aware very generally that the anniversary of the sinking of the tugboat -- I believe it's July 13 is coming up -- and that there are a number of Americans and others in Florida who want to commemorate that.

We are aware of plans to have some kind of event. We would just hope very much that this could proceed in a way that is peaceful and that is consistent with the law here in the United States and also consistent with reason, but certainly if people want to commemorate an event, they have a right to do so in this country.

If they want to do that in Cuba, they have to understand, of course, that they are subject within Cuba's territorial jurisdiction to Cuban law.

Q Thank you.

MR. BURNS: Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 2:10 p.m.)

(###)

To the top of this page